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WCAZ Radio News Archives for 2022-04


Carthage, IL – Wednesday, April 27, 2022 – Memorial Hospital will host a Career Fair on Thursday, May 12, from 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm. The event will be in the board room at Memorial Hospital located at 1454 N. County Road 2050, Carthage, Illinois. In addition, the career fair will feature walk-in interviews for all positions.

Memorial Hospital and Hancock Village invite the public to experience their seamless recruiting process at an in-person hiring event. Walk-In interviews will be held between 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm.  The public will have the opportunity to speak with hiring managers and learn more about the organizations' competitive benefits and plans for future growth. Some candidates will even receive same-day offers to join the team. 

Open positions include Certified or Registered Polysomnographer/Sleep Technician, Childcare Center Director, CNA/Resident Care Specialists, Diabetes Educator/Cert. Diabetes Ed. Specialist, Early Childhood Teachers, Full-Time RN/LPN/MA, Laboratory Administrative Director, LPN - hospital or Clinic, LPN/Medical Assistant-Clinic, LPN/RN-Hancock Village, Medical Laboratory Scientist, Nurse Assistant, Patient Experience Specialist, Respiratory Therapist, Culinarian, and Environmental Services. 

During the career fair, Memorial will be hosting a health fair and spring market, which will feature craft and food vendors, tours of the new health & wellness center, activities for kids, and health screenings. Don't miss this fun-filled, family-friendly event. 

To learn more, go to MHTLC.ORG. 



Long Jump

  • Girls- Yoanny Espinoza (4.23 m 7th) Audra Carroll (3.91 m 14th) 

  • Boys- Max Dittmer (5.26 m 10th) Thomas Chandler (4.97 m PR 12th) 


High Jump

  • Girls- Aneisha Norman (1.42 m 4th) 

  • Boys- Gannon Bergmann (1.73 m 2nd) 



  • Girls- Abbie Johnson (28.17 m 4th)  

  • Boys- Brady Johnson (36.20 m 2nd) Nick Huls (30.15 m PR 10th) Johnny Ravenscraft (19.71 m 31st) 


Shot Put

  • Girls- Abbie Johnson (9.13 m 8th) 

  • Boys- Nick Huls (11.94 m PR 6th) Brady Johnson (11.60 m 9th) Roan Jackson (8.14 m PR 28th) Johnny Ravenscraft (7.81 m PR 29th) 



  • Girls- Carli Blue, Yoanny Espinoza, Delaina Lambert, Ali Lopez (1:00.00 9th) 

  • Boys- Carter Sanderson, Evan Sanderson, Trenton Hanks, Roan Jackson (56.37 11th) 



  • Girls- Carli Blue, Allison Hunter, Delaina Lambert, Ali Lopez (2:12.54 9th) 

  • Boys- Thomas Chandler, Jerick LeMaire, Peyton Brown, Max Dittmer (1:36.61 2nd) 

    • Carter Sanderson, Evan Sanderson, Trenton Hanks, Roan Jackson (1:55.58 13th) 


  • Boys- Logan Pedigo, Nick Manzo, Jackson Livingston, Cole Kirkham (9:38.88 4th) 


Sprint Medley (100, 100, 200, 400)

  • Girls- Carli Blue, Allison Hunter, Delaina Lambert, Hallie Ray (2:17.63 8th) 

  • Boys- Evan Sanderson, Carter Sanderson, Trenton Hanks, Brady Blanton (2:08.83 13th) 



  • Girls- Ali Lopez (13.91 4th) Allison Hunter (16.08 19th) Carli Blue (16.14 PR 21st) 

  • Boys- Jorge Espinoza (12.03 PR 6th) 


100/110 Hurdles

  • Girls- Yoanny Espinoza (19.47 PR 10th) 



  • Girls- Ali Lopez (28.96 PR 6th) Delaina Lambert (33.43 21st) 



  • Girls- Audra Carroll (1:11.12 PR 6th) Allison Hunter (1:14.55 PR 7th) 

  • Boys- Brady Blanton (1:08.85 14th) 



  • Girls- Emma Whitaker (2:52.13 4th) Hallie Ray (2:52.87 5th) Illiana Solis (3:03.36 9th) 

  • Boys- Logan Pedigo (2:17.87 PR 5th) Jackson Livingston (2:27.55 9th) Spencer Brown (2:45.65 14th) 



  • Girls- Josie Bryan (5:30.89 4th)

  • Boys- Spencer Brown (6:36.32 20th) 

Kellen Fernetti Named Carl Sandburg College Women's Basketball Coach

Kellen Fernetti Named Carl Sandburg College Women’s Basketball Coach

April 26, 2022

GALESBURG — Kellen Fernetti — a western Illinois native with more than 15 years of experience coaching at the four-year college, community college and high school levels — has been named the head women’s basketball coach at Carl Sandburg College.


A native of Niota and 2001 graduate of Nauvoo-Colusa High School, Fernetti comes to Sandburg after spending the last two years as the boys basketball coach at Decatur Community High School in Oberlin, Kan. Prior to that, Fernetti spent the 2019-20 season as the women’s basketball coach at Lamar (Colo.) Community College and was the head women’s basketball coach at McCook (Neb.) Community College from 2016-19.


“I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to be the head women’s basketball coach at Sandburg and to come back home to Illinois,” Fernetti said. “Right away, this felt like a perfect fit for me. I’m ready to hit the ground running, bring a ton of energy toward helping our players reach their potential and build a lot of excitement around Chargers basketball.”


During his three seasons as head coach at McCook, Fernetti’s teams won Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference championships in 2017 and 2019, with Fernetti being named the NCCAC Coach of the Year and McCook leading the conference in scoring in both of those seasons. His squad also finished ninth in NJCAA Division I in points per game during the 2018-19 season, averaging 85.2 points and putting up a 21-11 record.


Fernetti spent 2012-16 as a men’s basketball assistant at McCook before being named the women’s basketball head coach there. With Fernetti on staff, McCook posted back-to-back winning seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16, won the 2016 NCCAC title and ranked in the top 10 in scoring in NJCAA Division I in each of his final three seasons as an assistant.


"Our opening attracted interest from an incredibly talented pool of candidates looking to join the exciting growth of Sandburg Athletics, and Coach Fernetti quickly emerged as a positive, proven leader in NJCAA women’s basketball,” Sandburg athletic director Jerry Thor said. “Coach Fernetti’s abundance of experience building relationships at both the junior college and four-year levels, combined with his energetic and enthusiastic approach to developing young women, means our Chargers can look forward to their total development as student-athletes under his guidance. Under Coach Fernetti’s leadership, the future is bright for our women’s basketball program, and I know our players, faculty and staff will love working with him.”


Fernetti’s first collegiate coaching experience came as a graduate assistant from 2010-12 at William Woods University, where he earned a Master of Education in Athletic/Activities Administration. His first job as a coach came at West Prairie High School in Sciota, where he led the Cyclones’ junior varsity boys basketball team in 2005-06 and the varsity program from 2006-10.


A former NJCAA student-athlete, Fernetti played at John Wood Community College in Quincy from 2001-03. He totaled 906 career points, led the Blazers in scoring in both seasons and earned All-Collegiate Conference of Illinois honors as a freshman and as a sophomore. He finished his career at John Wood as the program’s all-time leader in 3-pointers in a game (nine), season (106) and career (196).


Fernetti then transferred to Hannibal-LaGrange University and was the Trojans’ leading scorer in both of his seasons there, earning a spot on the All-American Midwest Conference team in 2004 and again in 2005. In his junior season at Hannibal-LaGrange, Fernetti earned NAIA National Player of the Week honors and led the country with 146 3-pointers. He knocked down 238 treys in his two seasons with the Trojans and finished his playing career as the program’s record holder for 3s in a game (11) and season (146). Fernetti earned his Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management from Hannibal-LaGrange in 2006.


While in high school, Fernetti was part of 100 wins in his career at Nauvoo-Colusa, including a 1998 Class A state championship in his freshman season with the Vikings. As a senior, he averaged nearly 32 points and scored a career-high 54 in one game. Fernetti remains the school’s record holder in career points, points in a season and 3-pointers.


Fernetti and his family are no strangers to Sandburg. His brother Bryant played baseball for the Chargers from 2006-08 — winning an Arrowhead Conference title as a sophomore — and he played for the Sandburg men’s basketball team under current Chargers coach Ryan Twaddle in the 2007-08 season. Fernetti’s father Steve also played baseball at Sandburg, from 1980-82.


Fernetti takes over for McKenna Weaver, who led the Chargers for the last two seasons. Sandburg returns five players from this past season, including Second-Team All-Arrowhead Conference and Second-Team All-Region IV selection Addison Eger (Mendon, Ill./Unity).


Arrest Report

April 18, 2022 through April 24, 2022


SILVA PENA CHAVELY,CHRISTINA (29 of Carthage, IL) Speeding

FREY,RACHEL A (18 of Fort Madison, IA) Speeding



GOLAY,ALEX J (23 of West Point, IL) Operate ATV on Roadway

DADANT,GABRIEL C (42 of Quincy, IL) Possession of Methamphetamine, 

Resisting/Obstructing a Peace Officer, Aggravated Fleeing 

And Eluding a Peace Officer – HELD



SMITH,JERRY L JR (33 of West Point, IL) Unattended Motor Vehicle



BEMIS,DALTON R (24 of Warsaw, IL) Driving While License Suspended, Operate

Uninsured Vehicle – NTA

TODD,JORDAN D (25 of Dallas City, IL) Speeding



MERRITT,MITCHELL J (22 of Carthage, IL) Driving While Under the 

Influence of Alcohol – Posted Bond

ESKRIDGE,CHARLES L (20 of Chicago, IL) Speeding



WATSON,ANTAVIS M (41 of Coralville, IA) Driving While License Suspended,

Obstructing Identification, Failure to Appear Warrant – Driving While License 

Revoked, Failure to Appear Warrant – Parole Violation – HELD

EXBOM,KALLIE O (18 of Moline, IL) Speeding



Rob Garcia Meet(@Rushville)- 4/23/2022



Long Jump

  • Girls- Josie Bryan (4.53 m 5th)  Yoanny Espinoza (4.44 m 6th) 

  • Boys- Drake Mudd (5.42 m 13th) Thomas Chandler (4.75 m 24th) 


High Jump

  • Girls- Aneisha Norman (1.37 m 7th) 

  • Boys- Gannon Bergmann (1.68 m 10th) 


Triple Jump

  • Girls- Yoanny Espinoza (9.81 m 2nd) Audra Carroll (7.65 m PR 9th) 



  • Girls- Abbie Johnson (28.20 m 3rd)  

  • Boys- Brady Johnson (33.98 m 8th) Tanner Freeman (31.54 m PR 11th) 


Shot Put

  • Girls- Abbie Johnson (8.90 m 6th) 

  • Boys- Tanner Freeman (12.01 m PR 4th) 



  • Girls- Ali Lopez, Carli Blue, Allison Hunter, Delaina Lambert (1:00.15 9th) 

  • Boys- Ethan James, Jerick LeMaire, Peyton Brown, Max Dittmer (45.09 SR 2nd) 



  • Boys- Ethan James, Jerick LeMaire, Peyton Brown, Max Dittmer (1:35.94 2nd) 



  • Boys- Trayton Anders, Jerick LeMaire, Matt McDowell, Cole Kirkham (3:38 48 SR 2nd) 



  • Girls- Emma Whitaker, Allison Hunter, Audra Carroll, Hallie Ray (12:43.57 4th) 

  • Boys- Trayton Anders, Nick Manzo, Matt McDowell, Cole Kirkham (9:19.12 SR 2nd) 



  • Girls- Ali Lopez (14.34 7th) Delaina Lambert (16.54 23rd) 

  • Boys- Max Dittmer (11.71 2nd) Jerick LeMaire (12.47 12th)


100/110 Hurdles

  • Girls- Yoanny Espinoza (19.61 PR 4th) 

  • Boys- Shawn Watkins (20.14 10th) Gannon Bergmann (20.22 PR 12th) 



  • Girls- Delaina Lambert (33.31 SR 19th) Carli Blue (35.96 PR 20th) 

  • Boys- Max Dittmer (24.03 3rd) Peyton Brown (25.77 15th)


  • Girls- Josie Bryan (1:07.25 4th) Ali Lopez (1:08.95 PR 7th) 

  • Boys- Gannon Bergmann (1:02.75 PR 13th) 



  • Girls- Josie Bryan (2:36.57 2nd) Emma Whitaker (3:08.91 16th) 

  • Boys- Cole Kirkham (2:07.00 PR 2nd) Spencer Brown (2:37.03 PR 15th) 



  • Boys- Spencer Brown (7:23.23 14th) 


Carthage, IL – Monday, April 25, 2022 – Memorial Hospital is pleased to introduce Kara Andrew, MS, RDN, LDN, DipACLM, ACSM EP, to their team. Kara is a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist, and certified lifestyle medicine professional. She specializes in eating disorders, cardiac rehab nutrition, weight management, sports nutrition, personal training, and diabetes education. She sees patients at Memorial Medical Clinic's hospital campus location at 1450 N. County Road 2050 in Carthage, Illinois. 


Andrew was born and raised in Wisconsin but has been a resident of Nashville, Tennessee, for the past seventeen years until her recent move to Carthage. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Belmont University in Nashville, TN, and her Master of Science degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science and completed a dietetic internship at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. Her experience includes personal training, teaching for ACSM, sports nutrition, weight management, long-term care, and dialysis. She believes strongly in living her values which include serving those around her. Because of this, Andrew was a board member of the Nashville Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics from 2016 to 2021. She served as website coordinator, president-elect, president, and past president. She looks forward to exploring opportunities to serve in the Hancock County region in the future. Andrew also believes in progression and empowering individuals. This value led her to recently become certified in Lifestyle Medicine by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. She strives to provide evidence-based education to equip patients with the tools required to make successful changes toward health and well-being. She is excited to begin this phase of her career working for an innovative and proactive organization!


Andrew shares, "I believe in personal accountability and empowering individuals to effect change. I want every patient to believe that he or she has the ability and responsibility to progress towards a healthier state of being. Because within this realization lies hope for the future."


Kara Andrew is accepting new patients to make an appointment to see her call 217-357-2173. 



Youth Entrepreneur Places in National Pitch Competition


A local youth entrepreneur recently received Honorable Mention in a National Pitch Competition, where she competed alongside over 260 other high school-aged entrepreneurs for a share of $4,000 in cash prizes. 


Hallie Ray, from Illini West High School and a participant of the Hancock County CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) program, made an official submission to the 2022 National Pitch Competition, alongside seven other local Hancock County CEO Students. 


The other submissions from the Hancock County CEO Program were made by CEO Participants Yoanny Espinoza from Illini West High School for her business, Dulce Drinks; Bradyn Robertson from Illini West High School for his business, Mint Condition Detailing; Jake Knorr from Southeastern High School for his business, Unleashed Puppy Perfume; Cole Kirkham from Illini West High School for his business, Off the Hanger; Abbey McMillan from Southeastern High School for her business, Tee’s To Inspire; Ava Blankenship from Illini West High School for her business, Relics Resin; and Kyle Kindhart from Southeastern High School for his business, Kindhart Woodworking. 


Ray has been working alongside her fellow CEO Participants all year to ideate and create her business, Makes Scents, which produces customized air fresheners for vehicles.


With this award, Ray receives $50 in cash prizes that can be invested back into her business as well as a collection of resources to support her in her entrepreneurial journey. 


The CEO program is an accredited entrepreneurship education course available to Juniors and Seniors from all Hancock County high schools as well as home-schooled students. The class is never held in school, rather, participants meet five days a week for 90 minutes in local businesses. Even so, participants do receive high school credit for the program as well as dual credit through Carl Sandburg College.


Funding for the nonprofit program comes from financial pledges from local businesses, individuals, and group community investors.


Throughout the school year, the CEO program takes students out of the classroom and into local businesses allowing them to meet with community leaders, exposing them to over one hundred guest speakers, and providing them with mentors who coach them through the process of starting and running a business. 


Each student leaves the program having created two businesses - a class business, a collaborative effort among all current participants which takes place in the first half of the year, and an individual business, which participants focus on developing during the second semester of the course. 


To celebrate these individual businesses, the provider of the CEO program nationwide, the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, hosts an annual National Pitch competition for all CEO participants in the 62 CEO Programs that exist across the country. 


The National Pitch Competition is an opportunity for CEO participants to share their individual businesses on a national platform and compete for cash prizes that can be invested back into their business concepts.


In the 2022 National Pitch Competition, Ray shared her business through a recorded 30-second video, which was taken in one continuous shot and then uploaded to a secure platform for judging. 


Submissions for the competition were reviewed by a community of over 70 CEO stakeholders from across the country comprised of CEO board members, CEO Alumni, local business owners, and mentors. 


The scores that the pitches received from these individuals helped rank the top thirty pitches. 


The final winners were then selected from these top thirty by a panel of three high-level judges who have seen incredible success in their own entrepreneurial endeavors: Wilbur You, Founder and CEO of YouTech, Joan Pacetti, CEO of The Cookie Dough Cafe, and Dan Chancellor, Founder and CEO of So ILL. 


The top pitches were announced on a live webinar on April 13, 2022, during which these high-level judges awarded the winners and provided comments and expert advice to students on pursuing their entrepreneurial path forward. 


Austin Brooks, Executive Director of the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship says of the competition, “The national pitch competition reflects the hard work that these youth entrepreneurs have put into the conceptualization and creation of their businesses throughout the year. 


Some of these students will take their business beyond the program, others will take the skills they learned into another business and be outstanding intrapreneurs, but all of them have gained valuable life and business experience by creating these businesses and learning how to communicate them effectively through their pitches.”


Long Jump

  • Girls- Josie Bryan (4.27 m 3rd) Yoanny Espinoza (4.20 m 6th)

  • Boys- Thomas Chandler (4.85 m PR 8th) Jorge Espinoza (4.37 m 13th) 


High Jump

  • Girls- Aneisha Norman (1.37 m 3rd) 

  • Boys- Gannon Bergmann (1.63 m 4th)


Triple Jump

  • Girls- Yoanny Espinoza (9.70 m 1st) 

  • Boys- Sawyer Pence (10.69 m 5th) 



  • Girls- Abbie Johnson (27.34 m 2nd) 

  • Boys- Brady Johnson (36.55 m PR 6th) Roan Jackson (27.67 m 12th) Nick Huls (25.55 m 14th) Johnny Ravenscraft (18.16 m 18th) 


Shot Put

  • Girls- Abbie Johnson (9.54 m SR 3rd) 

  • Boys- Brady Johnson (11.5 m SR 6th) Nick Huls (11.02 m 8th) Roan Jackson (7.89 m PR 21st) Johnny Ravenscraft (7.61 PR 22nd) 



  • Girls- Allison Hunter, Illiana Solis, Carli Blue, Ali Lopez (1:01.00 5th) 

  • Boys- Ethan James, Jerick LeMaire, Peyton Brown, Max Dittmer (45.40 1st) 



  • Girls- Allison Hunter, Illiana Solis, Carli Blue, Ali Lopez (2:13.78 5th) 

  • Boys- Ethan James, Jerick LeMaire, Peyton Brown, Max Dittmer (1:35.54 2nd)



  • Girls- Ali Lopez (14.20 5th) 

  • Boys- Colin Curfman (12.43 PR 10th) Thomas Chandler (12.54 13th) Jorge Espinoza (12.65 14th) 


100/110 Hurdles

  • Girls- Yoanny Espinoza (27.31 PR 7th) 



  • Girls- Ali Lopez (30.29 4th) 

  • Boys- Colin Curfman (25.37 PR 6th) Thomas Chandler (25.74 PR 9th) Jorge Espinoza (25.97 PR 10th) 



  • Girls- Josie Bryan (1:05.87 1st) 



  • Girls- Josie Bryan (2:33.23 SR 1st) Emma Whitaker (2:54.60 SR 5th) Illiana Solis (3:06.71 PR 7th) 

  • Boys- Jackson Livingston (2:24.30 PR 4th) Denver French (3:01.99 12th) 



  • Boys- Spencer Brown (6:29.61 PR 8th) Denver French (7:06.41 PR 10th) 



(Macomb, IL) The Macomb Heritage Days Committee is pleased to announce Cinco de Pie-Yo!, a Pie & Cake  Auction and Competition designed to raise funds and bring attention to Macomb Heritage Days’ 40th Anniversary. 2022  marks the impressive four-decade milestone of the beloved annual free admission festival, first held in July of 1982. 

The inaugural Cinco de Pie-Yo! fundraiser is open to the public and will be held on Thursday, May 5th from 4:30-6:30 PM at Macomb’s American Legion. The Pie & Cake Auction will feature pastry confections going to the highest bidders  through services graciously contributed from auctioneers Kyle Kelso, Monte Lowderman and Scott Schwerer, with all  proceeds going to the Annual Macomb Heritage Days Fund.  

The tasty pastry donations will come from community supporters, civic leaders, local groups & business and citizens just  like you. So, if you have a special pie or cake recipe and are interested in donating or more importantly, just a pie and  cake lover who wants to do some bidding to support Heritage Days at Cinco de Pie-Yo! check our Heritage Days – Macomb Facebook page or call or email us at 309-833-1315 or for further information. 

Cinco de Pie-Yo! May 5th at the Macomb American Legion Post 6 is authorized by the McDonough County Health  Department.  

Sandburg to Host Industrial & Skilled Trades Career Expo April 7

GALESBURG — Businesses and organizations from the industrial and skilled trades industries will be on hand to meet with job seekers at the 2022 Industrial and Skilled Trades Career Expo from 4-6 p.m. April 7 in Building G (Center for Manufacturing Excellence) on Sandburg’s Main Campus in Galesburg, 2051 Tom L. Wilson Blvd. 


The Industrial and Skilled Trades Career Expo is free and open to the public. Job seekers will have the opportunity to network with businesses and organizations from the region, explore career fields and learn about Sandburg’s programs of study. For more information, including the most up-to-date list of participating organizations, visit


The following organizations are scheduled to participate in the Industrial and Skilled Trades Career Expo (subject to change): 


  • Advance Services

  • Bricklayers Local 6

  • Carl Sandburg College Welcome Center

  • Crown Lift Trucks

  • Heat and Control Inc.

  • Horizons HR

  • ILLOWA Sheet Metal Workers 91 JATC

  • Local 25 Plumbers and Pipefitters JATC

  • Manufacturing Maintenance Solutions

  • Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council – Apprentice and Training Program, Pekin Campus

  • Syngenta

For more information, contact Tracy Engstrom, coordinator of career development, at 309.341.5246 or, or visit



(Macomb, Illinois, April 1, 2022) – After experiencing the horrific trauma of sexual assault, survivors of any age often face another daunting hurdle: finding someone to believe them. The way in which someone responds to a disclosure can have long-lasting impacts on a survivor’s mental and physical health. WIRC-CAA Victim Services, a nonprofit counseling agency for survivors of abuse, says it is critical for everyone to start by believing. That is why the agency chose the worldwide Start by Believing campaign as this year’s theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month.

An average of one in every three women and one in every four men in the United States have experienced some form of sexual violence, according to studies by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Despite these shocking numbers, surveys suggest that only one out of three survivors report the assault to law enforcement. For some survivors, one of the reasons they do not report is because they are worried no one will believe them. This fear commonly stems directly from the abuser themselves, as the survivor has been gaslighted (another form of abuse) into believing they are worthless, friendless, and/or that no one will believe the abuser is capable of such an act. Other times, the survivor has seen negative reactions from friends and family members to public cases of sexual assault. When the person they disclose to does not believe them or blames them, the impact on the survivor’s mental and physical health can be serious and life-long.

End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) created the worldwide Start by Believing campaign in 2011 to educate the public about how they can properly respond to disclosures from sexual assault survivors. Victim Services is one of many agencies supporting and participating in the campaign.

“It takes courage for survivors to tell their story. When someone tells you they were abused, that means they view you as someone they trust,” says Victim Services Public Relations Manager Jamie Roth. “Start the conversation by saying you believe them and ask how you can help. Then, suggest that they call a counseling agency such as Victim Services so they can start their healing journey.”

Child abuse is another crime that is unfortunately more common than people realize. On average, the CDC says one in four girls and one in 13 boys in the United States will experience some form of sexual violence before they turn 18. In turn, the CDC also says one in seven children in the United States experienced some form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and/or neglect from a caregiver or someone in a custodial role in the past year. According to Victim Services counselors and advocates, child abuse is happening in western Illinois, and it is critical to start by believing a child when they disclose abuse.

“Believing kids is important; it sets a precedent that you will believe them in the future,” said Alisha, a child sexual assault counselor for Victim Services (the full names of counselors and advocates are kept confidential to protect their safety).

For many child survivors, as well as adults, counseling with a trained professional is an essential part of healing from the trauma they experienced. Getting help can be challenging as the abuse makes them question who they can really trust, and it is difficult for them to identify and open up to people who truly want to help. Counselors, like those at Victim Services, take the time to get to know each client and make them feel as safe and as comfortable as possible.

“It is a breakthrough moment when we witness a child’s heart unfold and they open up after we have built up mutual trust,” said Brittany, a domestic violence child counselor/advocate for Victim Services.

Counselors and advocates of Victim Services are increasing their outreach activities throughout the month of April to reach survivors and raise awareness about sexual assault and child abuse in western Illinois. One special awareness event focuses specifically on child abuse: Hands Around the Courthouse. This free event is both interactive and informational. It will begin with a short presentation from counselors and advocates who have experience with helping child survivors. Afterwards, attendees who want to participate will be asked to hold a long, blue awareness ribbon and form a circle around the courthouse. During the event, t-shirts designed by western Illinois child survivors who witnessed or experienced abuse will be on display as part of The Clothesline Project. Victim Services is excited to announce that Hands Around the Courthouse will be held in McDonough, Knox, and Fulton counties. The McDonough County event is scheduled for Thursday, April 14th, 2022, on the steps of the McDonough County Courthouse, Macomb, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., weather permitting.  The Knox County event is scheduled for Thursday, April 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Knox County Courthouse in Galesburg, and the Fulton County event will be held from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Fulton County Courthouse in Lewistown on Tuesday, April 12. 

Local elected officials, businesses, and service organizations are also partnering with Victim Services to raise awareness. Some of those organizations include, but are not limited to the following: The Illinois Attorney General’s Office; Fulton-Mason Crisis Service; Spoon River College; Monmouth College; Carl Sandburg College; Knox College; McDonough County State’s Attorney Office; Warren County State’s Attorney Office; Western Illinois University Multicultural Center; and multiple local sheriff’s offices and police departments. Several community leaders throughout western Illinois are also scheduled to sign proclamations declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In a public display of support for survivors, Victim Services will hang blue ribbons and teal ribbons in Macomb, Monmouth, Oquawka, Carthage, Lewistown, Galesburg, and Canton. Several local law enforcement agencies and businesses plan to make public their pledge to start by believing survivors. The agency will also host informational booths at multiple locations in their service area to raise awareness and share information about the agency’s services.

Victim Services is a nonprofit organization that provides free and confidential counseling, medical advocacy, and legal advocacy to survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking throughout multiple counties in western Illinois. Their counselors and advocates use a survivor-centered approach to provide services to child survivors, adult survivors, and friends/family of survivors. For more information about how you can be an ally or become a volunteer, call their business line at 309-836-2148 between 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you have experienced or witnessed abuse at any point in your life, call their 24/7 crisis hotline at 309-837-5555. You are not alone.  

Caption: T-shirts designed by local child survivors of abuse will be on display at several locations in western Illinois as part of Victim Services’ Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities during April. Some of the t-shirts have heart wrenching messages on them, such as “I have felt guilt, shame, anger, sadness and fear.” [Photo by Jamie Roth, Victim Services]

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