Office Phone: 217-357-6056

WCAZ Radio News Archives for 2021-07

Secretary of State Jesse White Launching Comprehensive Plan to Address the Heavy Customer Volume at Facilities Caused by COVID-19 Pandemic

Secretary of State Jesse White Launching Comprehensive Plan to Address the Heavy Customer Volume at Facilities Caused by COVID-19 Pandemic

Expanding appointment program in September to additional Chicagoland facilities

Expanding remote renewal program for DLs/IDs so more customers can renew remotely 


Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is launching a comprehensive plan to address the heavy customer volume at Driver Services facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. White’s plan includes two key elements: 


  • Expanding the appointment pilot program in September to include most Driver Services facilities in the Chicagoland area.


  • Expanding remote renewal over the next six months to allow approximately 1 million more people to renew their driver’s licenses and ID cards online, by phone or by mail. Letters will be mailed out to those who qualify beginning in September until the end of February 2022.


“During the pandemic, my office has continued to serve the public, including face-to-face transactions, in a safe and responsible manner,” said White. “Throughout this time, we also greatly expanded online services. This next step will allow many more people to renew their driver’s licenses or ID cards remotely instead of visiting a Driver Services facility. To further address the heavy customer volume at facilities, my office is expanding the appointment program in September to include most Chicagoland facilities, so customers who must visit a facility can schedule an appointment. Certain designated facilities will still accommodate walk-in customers.”


Expanding the Appointment Program


Beginning the first week of September, customers will be required to make an appointment to visit the following three Chicago facilities: Chicago North, 5401 N. Elston Ave.; Chicago South, 9901 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive; and Chicago West, 5301 W. Lexington St. The days and hours of operation at these facilities will be Tuesday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Aug. 2.


Lake Zurich, Melrose Park, Midlothian and Woodstock have been serving as appointment facilities since early this year. These facilities, which also operate Tuesday through Saturday, will continue requiring appointments.


The week of Sept. 7th, many other metro Driver Services facilities will also require appointments. These facilities include Schaumburg, Bridgeview, Lombard, Des Plaines, Waukegan, Naperville, Aurora, Plano and Joliet. 

Appointments will be required for customers applying for or renewing REAL IDs, standard driver’s licenses
and ID cards, and for behind-the-wheel road tests at these facilities. Customers can visit to schedule an appointment up to 10 days in advance during this phase of the
program. New appointment slots will be available each day at
All 16 facilities will have the same standardized days and hours of operation: Tuesday through Friday from
7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Secretary White emphasized that seniors, persons with disabilities and expectant mothers will be served as
walk-ins at all 16 of the designated appointment facilities.
Beginning in September, customers can schedule an appointment online or by calling the appointment helpline
at 844-817-4649. The Secretary of State is partnering with the Chicago Lighthouse to provide these call center
services. The Chicago Lighthouse’s call centers offer career opportunities for people who are blind, visually
impaired, disabled, veterans and economically disadvantaged.
Larger central and downstate Illinois facilities will implement a customer scheduling system in the near future.
Walk-in Facilities
White noted that not all facilities will go to the appointment-based system. Many small, rural facilities will not
require the appointment system because they do not encounter the heavy customer volume that large facilities
Additionally, some Chicagoland facilities will remain accessible to walk-in customers. These facilities include
Deerfield, Elgin, Chicago Central (James R. Thompson Center) and the temporary facility at Prairie State
College in Chicago Heights.
Expanding remote renewal to address heavy customer volume
Beginning in September and running through February 2022, White’s office will be expanding remote renewal
for driver’s license and ID card holders. During this six-month period, the office will mail letters to eligible
customers with expired driver’s licenses and ID cards, requiring them to renew online, by phone or by mail.
The office estimates that this will eliminate the need for approximately 1 million people to visit a facility.
In addition, White’s office will continue mailing remote renewal letters to drivers and ID card holders 90 days
before their cards expire. Through this innovative approach, most customers will be able to renew remotely
and avoid visiting facilities. Customers who must visit a facility include first time driver’s license or ID card
applicants, first time REAL ID applicants and drivers ages 75 and older who are required by state law to visit a
facility when renewing their license.
White continues to encourage people to conduct other business online at Aside
from driver’s license and ID card renewals for those who qualify, online services include obtaining a duplicate
driver’s license or ID card, ordering a driver record and purchasing license plate stickers.
As a reminder, White has extended all driver’s license and ID card expiration dates to Jan. 1, 2022. This
extension does not apply to commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) and CDL learner’s permits.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the federal REAL ID deadline to May 3,2023.


Reversing the Exodus from Hancock County

Ever wondered what your community could do to reverse outmigration?

In 2018, 86 of Illinois’ 102 counties experienced population decline. Almost every rural county in Illinois has experienced an outmigration of its youngest and brightest talent. In September, the 2020 census data will be available, and experts are saying that they expect the trend to continue.


Although the effects of the pandemic on outmigration have not had much research devoted to them yet, many experts are predicting that the pandemic may have changed migration patterns, especially in younger adults able to work remotely. University of Illinois Extension Specialist Pam Schallhorn will

discuss several research-based strategies that communities can implement to help reverse the trend, as well as insights into how remote work may provide more opportunities for people to migrate back to rural communities.


“There are so many things that are impacted by the outmigration of young adults from rural communities, including school enrollment, availability of quality health care, future leadership, a skilled workforce, and business development” according to the presenter Pam Schallhorn. “Developing a

strategic plan to address outmigration and attract young adults back into rural communities could have a major impact on a community’s future.”


Pam Schallhorn is a regional Extension Specialist in Community and Economic Development with University of Illinois Extension. Schallhorn has spent the last six years studying what prompts people, especially young adults between the ages of 20 and 40, to return or remain in rural communities. She has assisted communities in conducting their own research by developing survey instruments and holding focus groups. Before coming to Extension, Pam was a commercial lender for over two decades as well as Director of the Small Business Development Center in Rockford, IL. She has earned a master’s

degree in Political Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Finance. For more information, please contact her at


LaHood Introduces Resolution to Support a Strong US-Lebanon Relationship

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Darin LaHood (IL-18) and Darrell Issa (CA-50) today introduced a bipartisan resolution, H.Res 569, to express Congress' support of the ongoing U.S.-Lebanon relationship and the Lebanese people. LaHood and Issa are co-chairs of the U.S.-Lebanon Friendship Caucus.

Specifically, the resolution supports the ongoing efforts and need for humanitarian assistance for the people of Lebanon, U.S. goals for Lebanon to combat government corruption and execute needed structural reforms and supports the important role of the Lebanese Armed Forces. As we near the one-year anniversary of the tragic blast in the Port of Beirut, the resolution expresses ongoing support for the Lebanese people and opposes the growing influence and role of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"As we approach the one-year anniversary of the tragic blast in Beirut that further destabilized the country and region, American support for the Lebanese people and the Lebanese Armed Forces is critical," said Rep. LaHood. "My resolution reaffirms United States' commitment to the people of Lebanon and to peace in the region. A strong, independent, and sovereign Lebanon can help provide stability in the Middle East, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to support a productive and sustainable U.S.-Lebanon relationship.”

Rep. Issa said, “The country of my grandparents is on the verge of becoming a failed state, and malign actors are circling like vultures. Working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the U.S.-Lebanon Friendship Caucus and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I will never stop my advocacy for our bilateral relationship, a corruption-free government, and the restoration of Lebanon as an arbiter of peace in the region. It is manifestly unjust that while they are successful in every corner of the world, the one place the Lebanese people are not able to be successful is their very own country. This must change.”

“The House Resolution sends a very strong message to the Lebanese people that their survival and that of Lebanon are in the interests of the United States. As importantly, it sends a clear message to Lebanon’s government that members of Congress are concerned with its inability to conduct a transparent and credible investigation of the explosions and ‘calls on the Government of Lebanon to conduct a credible, impartial, and transparent investigation into the cause of, and responsibility for, the August 4 explosions, and include impartial international experts as part of the investigation team,” added Ed Gabriel, the American Task Force on Lebanon's President and CEO.

House Resolution 569 expresses the sense of Congress on the continued importance of the U.S.-Lebanon relationship. The resolution expresses U.S. support for:

  • Continued assistance for the Lebanese people in response to the ongoing humanitarian and economic crisis
  • Sovereignty, security, and independence of Lebanon as a U.S. ally
  • The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) through continued U.S. military training and supplies of military equipment
  • U.S. institutions in Lebanon through programs like American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) and U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI)
  • Strong opposition to Hezbollah influence in Lebanon
  • Strong opposition to corruption in the Lebanese public sector
  • Strong opposition to the politicization of the independent judiciary
  • The role and presence of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon

The greater Peoria, Illinois area is home to over 8,000 Lebanese Americans, one of the largest Lebanese populations in the country. Congressman LaHood’s great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from the village of Aitou in Northern Lebanon. The U.S. is home to over 14,000 immigrants from Aitou, many of whom live in Peoria, Illinois.

Rep. LaHood is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Ways and Means Committee.

Edwards Jones Agent- Seth Minter held a ribbon cutting at his new location 325 S Candy Lane Macomb.

Edward Jones-Financial Advisor: Seth Minter at 325 S. Candy Lane, Macomb. Minter specializes in helping clients with retirement savings strategies, business retirement plans, insurance and annuities, estate and legacy strategies, and more. Office hours are 8 am-5 pm M-F; Sat./Sun. by appointment only.  Seth provides  services in McDonough and Hancock Counties.     

For more information: (309) 833-3664 or

School-Record 31 Chargers Earn NJCAA All-Academic Awards including Ben Higgins from Macomb!

July 27, 2021

GALESBURG — For the second straight year, a school-record number of Carl Sandburg College student-athletes earned awards from the NJCAA for their academic performance. Sandburg had 31 athletes who were named to the 2020-21 NJCAA All-Academic Teams, blowing past the previous record of 22 honorees last year.


Ten Chargers athletes earned NJCAA All-Academic First Team honors for recording a perfect 4.0 grade point average, double the number from a year ago. Nine Sandburg athletes received second-team honors (3.80-3.99 GPA) and 12 earned third-team honors (3.60-3.79 GPA).


Sandburg also had seven sophomore student-athletes who earned NJCAA All-Academic honors each of the past two years.


Seven Chargers squads had at least one NJCAA All-Academic recipient, with baseball, softball and volleyball each having a Sandburg-best five representatives. Three of the Chargers’ honorees were multi-sport athletes.


The following Sandburg student-athletes earned 2020-21 NJCAA Academic Awards
(* denotes honoree each of last two years):



  • Matheus Andrade (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Colegio Brasil Objectivo), freshman, men’s soccer
  • Austin Collinson (Normal, Ill./ West), freshman, baseball*
  • Alyssa Conness (LaSalle, Ill./LaSalle-Peru), sophomore, softball
  • Megan Crome (Marshall, Ill./Marshall), freshman, volleyball
  • Addison Eger (Mendon, Ill./Unity), freshman, women’s basketball
  • Ben Higgins (Macomb, Ill./Macomb), freshman, baseball*
  • Kelsey Hobson (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone), volleyball & softball*
  • Wyatt Mayor (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg), sophomore, men’s soccer
  • Annie McKim (Yates City, Ill./home-schooled), volleyball & women’s basketball*
  • Grant Otting (Taylor Ridge, Ill./Rockridge), sophomore, men’s golf



  • Carmyn Baldwin (Lewistown, Ill./Lewistown), freshman, volleyball
  • Tanner Blum (Elmwood, Ill./Elmwood), sophomore, men’s golf*
  • Parker Bradford (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria), freshman, baseball
  • Jeron Conner (Burlington, Iowa/Notre Dame), freshman, baseball
  • Courtney Hinton (Monmouth, Ill./United), freshman, volleyball
  • William Ornduff (Cameron, Ill./United), freshman, men’s golf
  • Griffin Ronnebeck (East Moline, Ill./United Township), freshman, men’s basketball
  • Karsen White (Mapleton, Ill./Limestone), freshman, women’s basketball
  • Trace White (Mount Pleasant, Iowa/Mount Pleasant), sophomore, men’s golf*



  • Cooper Beck (Petersburg, Ill./PORTA), sophomore, men’s golf
  • Maddi Benson (Spring Bay, Ill./Metamora), freshman, softball
  • Kelynn Boyle (Amboy, Ill./Amboy), freshman, women’s basketball
  • Emily Cash (Yates City, Ill./Farmington), freshman, women’s basketball
  • Laney Chiaravalle (Peoria, Ill./Limestone), sophomore, volleyball
  • Brett Marsh (Mapleton, Ill./Limestone), freshman, baseball
  • Megan McIntire (Oquawka, Ill./West Central), sophomore, softball
  • Elly Olson (Altona, Ill./Galva), freshman, volleyball & softball
  • Sam Scott (Deer Creek, Ill./Deer Creek-Mackinaw), freshman, baseball
  • Alex Smith (Normal, Ill./West), freshman, baseball
  • Julia Vosburgh (Woodstock, Ill./Woodstock), softball*
  • Kayla Wolf (Chillicothe, Ill./Illinois Valley Central), freshman, softball


Carl Sandburg College Adds Telehealth Services for Students

July 27, 2021

GALESBURG — Carl Sandburg College is adding telehealth to its list of services available to students.


The Board of Trustees at its regular monthly meeting Thursday approved a two-year bid from TimelyMD to offer behavioral and medical telehealth services that will be accessible to all students. The College has provided free in-person counseling to students for several years, and Sandburg’s Main Campus in Galesburg sees an average of 167 students each academic year for personal counseling.


survey published in March by TimelyMD found that 82 percent of college students said they continue to have increased stress and/or anxiety because of COVID-19. The survey also found that in the previous year, 67 percent of students sought emotional support, and 63 percent of those students used telehealth services.


“Offering these services is an opportunity to break down barriers to medical and mental health care for our students,” said Autumn Scott, dean of student success. “Regardless of a Sandburg student’s available time, transportation or financial resources, they will be able to connect with a medical or mental health professional wherever and whenever they need help. When a student is not feeling well — whether physically or mentally — it’s incredibly difficult to be academically successful. Having these services available can help us improve our students’ wellness and, in turn, their overall success.”


The Board also approved an agreement with SHIELD Illinois to offer on campus the rapid PCR saliva test designed by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers. SHIELD testing will be optional and available to all students and employees starting this fall.


In other business, the Board approved the following:

  • Employment of Nicole Lepper as full-time associate degree nursing instructor, effective Aug. 1.
  • Resignation of Mary Guenseth as full-time associate degree nursing instructor, effective July 30.
  • Resignation/retirement of LaDonna Green as administrative assistant to the dean of nursing, effective July 31.


The Board’s next scheduled meeting is 7 p.m. Aug. 26.


ICYMI: LaHood Op-ed: Reducing compliance burdens for the beauty industry

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) authored an op-ed last week for The Hill's special edition on small businesses and the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The op-ed highlighted LaHood's legislation, the Small Business Tax Fairness and Compliance Simplification Act, which would provide equitable treatment to the beauty, salon, and barber industry, allow these businesses to further support their employees, and promote small business expansion.

Originally published by The Hill: Reducing compliance burdens for the beauty industry
By Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18)

In my hometown of Peoria, Ill., small businesses like Paola Hinton’s Five Senses Spa and Salon are part of the fabric of the community — helping make Peoria an All-American City. Over the past year, small businesses like Five Senses Spa and Salon, have put in immense effort to comply with COVID-19 restrictions to remain open, offer services to the community, and survive the challenging economic climate of the pandemic.

Thanks to bipartisan efforts in Congress last year through the Paycheck Protection Program and Small Businesses Administration’s (SBA) loan support programs, many businesses and workers have been able to manage and endure COVID-19 hardships. However, more work in Congress is needed to ensure that small businesses and employees can thrive as our economy gets back to pre-pandemic normalcy.

Over 1 million Americans in small towns, big cities, rural communities, and urban neighborhoods are employed by salons, beauty parlors, and barbershops. Over 80 percent of the 1.2 million beauty industry businesses have less than ten employees and are owned and operated predominantly by women and minorities.

In the beauty industry, it is common practice for employees to be paid tips by clients, similar to the foodservice industry. Unlike the foodservice industry, beauty industry small businesses are required to pay FICA taxes on tips, even though the employer is not involved in the tip transaction. This places unnecessary burdens on small business owners by requiring a significant investment of time and resources to comply with regulations — time that could be spent hiring and training employees and growing and improving their small business.

Since 2018, I have joined with Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) to help address this burden and champion H.R. 821 — the Small Business Tax Fairness and Compliance Simplification Act. Our bipartisan bill would extend the tax code’s Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax tip credit — which is currently available only to the foodservice industry — to the tens of thousands of employer-based beauty service establishments.

The FICA tax tip credit would act as a reimbursement for the cost employers incur in accounting for tip income. By reducing the tax burdens for these small businesses, as well as improving the reporting process of tip income, the Small Business Tax Fairness and Compliance Simplification Act would provide equitable treatment to the beauty industry and allow these businesses to further support their employees and expand their businesses. Extending the FICA tax tip credit and creating parity with other tip-industries is a commonsense measure to help with the continued economic recovery from COVID-19.

Small businesses, like Five Senses Spa and Salon and many others across my district, are ready to return to normal. As COVID-19 continues to decline and Americans get back to activities of daily life, it is time for Congress to pass the Small Business Tax Fairness and Compliance Simplification Act, reduce regulatory burdens, and help millions of impacted small businesses across America.



memorial hospital builds new addition


Carthage, IL – Monday, July 26, 2021 – A new addition is currently being constructed on the south side of the main hospital building. This addition will house additional needed space that will have a variety of functions.

Due to the move of the convenient care and walk-in clinic to the hospital campus in March of 2021 and the coronavirus pandemic, our plans to expand were delayed. The addition includes 5,000 square feet, 1,300 square feet of which will be conference space. Memorial Hospital organization is in need of additional conference space, as their main conference room has been converted into what is now the Walk-in/Convenient Care clinic, inside of Memorial Medical Building. Essentially, this space will better serve our cardiac, pulmonary, and diabetes patients as those services will move to the new space. The expansion will also have a teaching kitchen which will allow for cooking classes and includes cameras for remote or virtual classes. This teaching kitchen will be utilized by Memorial Hospital’s Registered Dietitian in order to expand nutritional patient education opportunities further. Lastly, the new space will include a conference room. The team at Memorial Hospital expects construction to be completed in early 2022.

Rob Biondolino, Director of Plant Operations at Memorial Hospital, states, “As we continue to expand and add new service lines within our organization, this addition was absolutely vital. We are very excited to have this brand new space to support our continuously growing organization.”

Memorial Hospital will continue to update the community regarding the status and progression of this project. Upon completion, Memorial Hospital plans to host an open house in this new space.  

Memorial Hospital is a 501(c)(3), non-profit critical access hospital, which employs over 250 individuals, offers emergency, surgical, imaging (x-ray), laboratory, obstetrics, seven clinics throughout the region, specialty clinics, and more. Memorial Hospital has served the residents of Hancock County and surrounding areas since 1950. For more information, find us on the web at 



LaHood Introduces Bills to Bolster TANF

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) introduced two bills, the Improving Access to Work Act and the Supporting Work Through Apprenticeships Act, which aim to strengthen provisions under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. These much-needed reforms to TANF will hold states accountable for their spending and ensure that the federal dollars are going towards the neediest families to provide them with the resources and necessary tools to get back into the workforce.

LaHood's bills were included in the Ways and Means Republicans' “Jobs and Opportunity with Benefits and Services for Success Act” or “JOBS for Success Act.” Senate Companion legislation was introduced by Senator Steve Daines (R-MT). 

"The primary goal of the TANF program is to assist families in need with a hand-up, providing safety net of government assistance to help find work and pull themselves out of poverty," said Rep. LaHood. "Finding and keeping a job is the best way for families to move toward self-sufficiency, and I am proud to reintroduce legislation to help Americans get back to work as we recover from COVID-19."

Yesterday, on the 25th anniversary of bipartisan welfare reform in 1996 that created TANF, Ways and Means Republicans hosted a roundtable meeting with key former and current Republican leaders and experts on anti-poverty welfare reforms. They discussed TANF improvements that promote personal responsibility, time limits on eligibility, and work requirements. You can view that here

Improving Access to Work Act

  • This legislation will require states to spend 25% of their Maintenance-of-Effort (MOE) funds and 25% of their federal block grant on work or work support activities
  • In 2019, states used only 10% of their TANF funds for work activities and another 3% on work support activities
  • Additionally, this legislation prohibits states from supplanting TANF federal funds to fill state budget holes

Supporting Work Through Apprenticeships Act

  • This legislation adds apprenticeships to the list of approved work activities
  • Current work activities include on-the-job training, job readiness assistance, vocational educational training, and community service

Don O'Brien with the BBB discusses the practice of fly by night asphalt contractors to scam homeowners on spur of the moment offers to "pave" driveways with excess asphalt

Don O'Brien with the BBB discusses the practice of fly by night asphalt contractors to scam homeowners on spur of the moment offers to "pave" driveways with excess asphalt.  These contractors will request and expect on the spot payment with shoddy workmanship or in the worst cases no asphalt paved.


Phil Allen's newspaper camera lens, are on display at the Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum in Carthage. The display opens Sunday, Aug. 1, with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. hosted by the Allen family. Phil would have been 100 on Aug.1 this year.

The life and times of Dallas City were recorded by George V. and Edith Allen and their son, George Philip Allen, with news and photographs in the Dallas City Enterprise from 1936 to 1986.

Now images of the town, through Phil Allen’s newspaper camera lens, are on display at the Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum in Carthage. 

The display opens Sunday, Aug. 1, with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. hosted by the Allen family. Phil would have been 100 on Aug.1 this year. 

“The family is taking this opportunity to highlight the photography side of Phil's many talents,” said his daughter, Patricia Allen Stewart. 

“His photographs tell the story of mid-century life in the midwest, and this work deserves to be recognized.”

Photographs include school events, plays and graduations, city and church events, carnivals, parades and other newsworthy times.

The Dallas City Enterprise was started on May 12, 1899, by A.E. Shappel M.D., first operating in Niota and moving to Dallas City later that year.

After several owners, the paper was purchased by George V. Allen in 1936. In 1944, Allen bought the Dallas City Review and merged it with the Enterprise. His son Phil joined him in 1946, after graduating from Culver-Stockton College and serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II.

The Allens owned and published the newspaper from 1936 to 1986, when it was sold to Steve and Susan Kempher. The paper stopped publishing in March of 2001. The Allens have loaned nearly 200 photographs from their father’s collection to Kibbe Museum. All of them were developed in the newspaper’s darkroom. Also on loan is a camera bag with his camera, light meter and tripod.

The public is welcomed to this display opening and reception at 306 Walnut in Carthage. The museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday, or other times by appointment. Call 217-357-9552.

LaHood Introduces Bill to Strengthen Paid Leave Options for Working Parents

ashington, D.C. – Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) introduced legislation to provide greater flexibility to working parents with newborn children and expand access to paid leave for low-income workers. Specifically, the bill would amend the Child Care Entitlement to States (CCES) to allow eligible low-income parents the option of receiving a child care payment directly - as partial wage replacement - instead of child or infant care assistance.  

Under current law, CCES funds have specific allowable uses outlined in the program rules. Rep. LaHood's bill would expand these allowable uses providing low-income new parents the financial flexibility to use these funds as a partial wage replacement to stay home with their child. The bill will also provide oversight measures to ensure the benefit is being used correctly and help avoid fraudulent payments.

"Ensuring that working parents have the ability to choose how they care for their children, particularly a newborn, is vital to the long-term stability of a family and the success of a child," said Rep. LaHood. "I am proud to introduce legislation that provides the needed flexibility of child care dollars allowing low-wage workers the option to stay home with their newborn or utilize traditional child care programs.”

The legislation is part of an effort by Ways and Means Republicans to provide greater flexibility and choice to parents while focusing the most beneficial resources toward low-wage workers. In May, Ways and Means Republicans unveiled an early draft of the Protecting Worker Paychecks and Family Choice Act in collaboration with Republicans on the Education and Labor Committee. The Republicans proposal increases access to paid family and medical leave and affordable child care, while rejecting one size fits all Washington mandates.

After 39 years of distinguished and dedicated service, Nancy Jameson has retired from the WIRC-CAA Board of Directors. In 1982 and 1998, she served as Vice Chair representing Hancock County.


Macomb, Illinois, July 19, 2021 – After 39 years of distinguished and dedicated service, Nancy Jameson has retired from the Western Illinois Regional Council-Community Action Agency (WIRC-CAA) Board of Directors. She was honored with a plaque on June 29 by WIRC & CAA Executive Director Tracy Camden and longtime WIRC Administrative Assistant Rose Elam.

Jameson has served in multiple roles on the Board since 1982. In 1982 and 1998, she served as First Vice Chair representing Hancock County. From 1990 through 1992, Jameson had the honor of serving as Chair for the Board. She attended more than 155 meetings over the years, and is the longest term serving Board member to date in the Agency’s history. In 2011, when she became the Everly House Director, she represented McDonough County on the Board.

“Nancy was a steadfast member of the WIRC-CAA Board, as she rarely missed a meeting,” said Camden.  “She really cares about the Agency and I could always count on her to ask questions at Board meetings.  I appreciated her asking questions because that helped make us better.  I thank Nancy for her commitment and for all the guidance she provided to the Agency over the years.” 

WIRC & CAA is a multifaceted agency that serves multiple counties in western Illinois. The Agency provides a wide range of services across many departments, from community development programs for local governments to social service programs for people in need. For more information about WIRC & CAA, visit their website at, find Western Illinois Regional Council & Community Action Agency on social media, or call (309) 837-2997.

Caption: On June 29, 2021, WIRC & CAA Executive Director Tracy Camden (left) and WIRC Administrative Assistant Rose Elam (right) presented retiring CAA Board Member Nancy Jameson (center) with a plaque to recognize her 39 years of distinguished service to the Agency [Photo by Jamie Roth, WIRC & CAA].

Sam Harnack executive director of the Hancock County Economic Development Corporation stopped in on Real Country in the Mornings on her first month!

Sam Harnack executive director of the Hancock County Economic Development Corporation expresses her desire for the opportunity to meet with community leaders, businesses, and individuals throughout Hancock County.  She also gives a quick overview of her current projects and efforts as well as the potential for future opportunities for learning and interacting within the county.


Mike Pearman with the Western IL Workforce Office reminds listeners of the need to move quickly on employment grants for those job seekers wishing assistance by the fall semester.

Mike Pearman with the Western IL Workforce Office reminds listeners of the need to move quickly on employment grants for those job seekers wishing assistance by the fall semester.  Their office has grants still available for those high school graduates looking for training assistance or dislocated employees needing training to reenter the workforce.


Marla Willard with the West Central Childcare Connection explains the process for families with small children to receive assistance with their childcare costs.

Marla Willard with the West Central Childcare Connection explains the process for families with small children to receive assistance with their childcare costs.  She also notes that in areas with a lack of registered childcare facilities a family member or friend can qualify to provide care with payment through the IL Department of Health and Human Services.


Andy Bastert, board member of the Legacy Theater Foundation, announces the free movie offered on the afternoon of July 17th

Andy Bastert, board member of the Legacy Theater Foundation, updates the community on the two performance cancellations.  He announces the free movie offered on the afternoon of July 17th to replace the Horvath and the Rat Pack performance.  He also stresses the desire of the Legacy Board to present 12 performances and the efforts to achieve that annual goal, even in the face of the pandemic.


Don O'Brien with the Better Business Bureau cautions potential charitable donors of those "charities" where the balance of funds go to the fundraiser.

Don O'Brien with the Better Business Bureau cautions potential charitable donors of those "charities" where the balance of funds go to the fundraiser.  He gives the online address for the BBB's charitable giving website devoted to providing information on those reputable charities where at least 65% of their contributions go towards the cause or individual's benefitting from the funds.


Gay Dickerson with the Hancock County on Aging describes the process whereby those seniors on Medicare and Medicaid in the county can opt into the managed care program that includes their primary care physician.

Gay Dickerson with the Hancock County on Aging describes the process whereby those seniors on Medicare and Medicaid in the county can opt into the managed care program that includes their primary care physician.  If they have any questions call Gay Dickerson @ 217-357-6000 for more information or questions on the change.



Macomb, Illinois, June 25, 2021 – A record number of people came together on Saturday, June 19, to participate in Silvie’s Ride Against Child Abuse. The annual fundraising event is held to collect donations for Western Illinois Regional Council-Community Action Agency (WIRC-CAA) Victim Services. This year, thanks to the generous support of attendees, local businesses and organizations, $21,228 was raised to help survivors of abuse who are served by the agency. 

“It was heartwarming to see so many people come together in memory of Silvie and in support of survivors,” said Victim Services Public Relations Manager Jamie Roth. “Thanks to this fundraiser, our Victim Services counselors and advocates will be able to help a lot of survivors with starting their healing journey.”

Silvie’s Ride Against Child Abuse is an annual event that is held in memory of five-year-old Silven “Silvie” Yocum and in memory of all children who have witnessed and experienced abuse. Silvie became a fatal victim of domestic abuse in September 2006. Members of Silvie’s family and the Knights Motorcycle Riding Club host the annual day-long event at the Macomb Elks Lodge. Riders left the Elks Lodge as a group and traveled to several pre-determined locations in Hancock, Henderson, McDonough, and Warren counties to raise awareness. The public was also invited to support the cause by purchasing breakfast or bidding on items in the silent auction. Backdraft BBQ of Prairie City provided dinner to the riders when they returned to the Elks Lodge. All donations went directly to Silvie’s Fund at Victim Services to provide free counselling and advocacy to local child and adult survivors of abuse. 

This year’s donation total was boosted thanks to the efforts of Tim Weaver of Weaver Guns & Ammo. He hosted a gun raffle prior to the event and raised $10,000 for Silvie’s Fund. “We were stunned when we found out how much Weaver was able to raise in such a short period of time,” said Roth. “We are so grateful that he was moved to do this additional fundraiser in memory of Silvie and to help survivors.” 

Donations are accepted year-round. Supporters are welcome to donate by mailing a check to WIRC-CAA Victim Services, PO Box 157, Macomb, IL 61455, or by credit card at 

For more information about Silvie’s Ride, find “Silvie’s Ride Against Child Abuse” on Facebook or call Kathleen Yocum at 309-255-0301.

If you have experienced abuse at any point in your life, or if you think someone you know is being abused, call Victim Services’ free and confidential crisis hotline at 309-837-5555. 


HANCOCK COUNTY, IL ~ In June 2020, several Hancock County businesses applied for the Downstate Small Business Stabilization (DSBS) Grant to assist with lost revenue due to COVID-19.  The applications required a governmental entity to serve as the fiscal agent, and Hancock County agreed to accept that role.  The DSBS grant was awarded to twelve of those businesses that applied.  After a year’s wait, the funding has finally arrived at the Hancock County Treasurer’s office.  The DSBS funding gives a total of $238,750.00 to these local businesses. 

A partnership among the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, the Hancock County Board of Directors, the Hancock County Treasurer, Hancock County Economic Development, Carthage Community Development, the Small Business Development Center, and the business owners made this funding possible.  To acknowledge this partnership and recognize the hard work that accompanied a year’s worth of effort, representatives from these organizations and the business owners will gather at the Hancock County Courthouse, 500 Main Street, Carthage, Illinois, on Tuesday, July 6 at 3 PM for presentation of the checks and press conference. 

Bruno, beloved bear known for wandering the Midwest, dies in Louisiana

A bear that gained a social media following while wandering hundreds of miles in the Midwest and eventually reached Louisiana has died after being hit by a vehicle, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said Wednesday.

The male bear dubbed Bruno was euthanized Tuesday because there was no way he could have survived, said Maria Davidson, large carnivore program manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Not only were both back legs broken, but they were paralyzed because of spinal injuries, she said: “He had been dragging himself, literally.”

Biologists estimated that Bruno had been injured about a month before a homeowner in Morehouse Parish, which is on the Arkansas state line in northeastern Louisiana, called the department Tuesday, saying a bear wouldn’t leave the yard.

Biologists went there.

“He was in bad shape. It was rough,” Davidson said.

Sue Kline, a local lobbyist in Muscatine, Iowa, for the U.S. Humane Society, said she started a Facebook group called “Keeping Bruno Safe” after he showed up in Iowa. “We ended up tracing him back to Wisconsin. … He was in the middle part of Wisconsin before people even noticed him,” she said.

That would make for an 800-mile (more than 1,200 kilometer) trek into Louisiana.

He had traveled in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, swimming the Mississippi River four times, before getting cornered between two interstates and drawing a crowd of hundreds in a St. Louis suburb last July. Since that was dangerous for both bear and audience, Missouri wildlife officials tranquilized the bear and had him relocated.

“He got in a spot in a bunch of highways on the July Fourth weekend,” recalled Jason Sumners of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

He was released not far from St. Louis, in the northeast corner of the Ozark Mountains, Sumners said.

Facebook fans tracked the bear south through Arkansas, as well.

He was an odd bear, said Kline. He seemed to prefer farm fields and groves to forests, and never went for the easy pickings of trash cans and dumpsters.

“This bear never bothered anybody or anything, not one time,” she said. “He walked through towns, through convenience store parking lots, and never bothered anyone.”

A couple of times, she said, members were able to get police to hold up traffic to let Bruno cross highways.

“He was certainly not fearful of roadways,” Sumners said.

Bruno’s injuries made the cause of death all too clear.

Wandering onto a road and being hit by traffic accounts for 80% of the 45 to 55 bear carcasses the Louisiana department deals with each year, Davidson said. Since Bruno was a celebrity, the department sent a news release about his death.

“I’m so upset that Bruno died this way,” Kline said.

What is a mystery is Bruno’s rambles. There’s been speculation that he was looking for love. But Davidson said it’s youngsters that head out into the great unknown in search of territory and a mate.

Missouri biologists estimated that the bear was 2 or 3 years old — definitely adult, but not old, Sumners said.

Moreover, he traveled year-round, not just in breeding season, so he wasn’t looking for a mate, Davidson noted.

“It’s very, very, very rare for an adult bear like that to travel the distance he did. … It’s very strange behavior,” she said


LaHood Statement on One Year Anniversary of USMCA Entering Into Force

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) released the following statement today marking the one year anniversary of the United States Mexico and Canada (USMCA) Agreement entering into force:

“USMCA is a win for the economic future of Illinois farmers, manufacturers, and workers. Forty percent of the products we grow in Illinois go to Mexico or Canada, and this trade pact strengthened that vital relationship and provided needed certainty for our producers. USMCA leveled the playing field for Illinois, opened opportunities for American goods and services, and increased American competitiveness. 

“As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure Mexico and Canada live up to their commitments in USMCA and build off this deal to support and craft future robust trade agreements that strengthen American trade for generations to come.” 


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