Democrat Party Chair Claims Root is Misleading Macon County Voters

Democrat Party Chair Claims Root is Misleading Macon County Voters

December 6 – Macon County Democratic Party Chairman Jim Underwood has issued a statement in response to Jim Root’s statement Wednesday in the hotly contested Macon County Sheriff’s election.

Underwood’s full statement is below.

“We acknowledge that it is well within Lt. Jim Root’s right to try and contest the certified results in court. That being said, we are extremely disappointed that Lt. Root and his attorney have chosen to mischaracterize the results of last weeks’ discovery recount in an effort to confuse the public. The fact is Lt. Root and his legal team hand-selected 18 precincts to recount that were most favorable to him and when all the eligible ballots were recounted in those precincts, Sheriff Brown was still the winner. We strongly disagree with the suggestion that there are two valid and uncounted ballots that change the result of this election, as well as the idea that the lawfully certified outcome can be overturned by any entity but the judiciary. Making inaccurate statements and misleading the voters will not change the results of this race.

It is Lt. Root’s responsibility to contest this election as well provide evidence that the election results as certified by the County Clerk were wrong. For Lt. Root to suggest that Sheriff Brown join him in this effort makes no rational or legal sense.

The Macon County Democratic Party would respectfully request that Lt. Root and his legal representatives allow the judicial process to work and refrain from making any further statements about this case until all of the evidence and facts are presented in a court of law. Politicizing this matter any further will not change the results of this race.

We have faith in the process and strongly believe that once all of the evidence has been brought forward that Sheriff Brown will continue to serve as the Sheriff of Macon County.”

Semi Collides with School Bus Killing 2

Semi Collides with School Bus Killing 2

December 6 – A semitrailer heading the wrong way on an interstate collided head-on with a school bus carrying members of an Illinois high school girls’ basketball team, killing the truck driver and an adult on the bus, authorities said Thursday.

Illinois State Police said eight girls on the bus were injured in the head-on crash Wednesday night on Interstate 74 near Downs. Police said the bus driver and a coach also were injured.

The girls’ team was returning from a game at Champaign Central, according to Normal West High School athletic director Stan Lewis. The girls had what were described as non-life threatening injuries and were taken from the scene by ambulance, police said.

Police said 72-year-old Charles Crabtree of Normal was the bus passenger who died. He was a volunteer with Normal West.

Lewis initially told the newspaper that a junior varsity team was on the bus, but he later described it as the school’s freshman team. He said some junior varsity players also made the trip.

Parents and friends of the students involved in the crash gathered at the school for updates as word of the crash spread on social media. Dayna Brown, a spokeswoman for the McLean County Unit 5 school district, said Normal West will be open as usual Thursday, with counselors on hand.

“People care about each other in this school and this community, and I think they just wanted to be together during this horrible tragedy,” Brown said.

Preliminary reports indicate the truck driver was a 34-year-old man from Iowa who was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes, police said. The bus was heading westbound.

The westbound lanes of the interstate were closed following the crash for the investigation.

Source: The Associated Press

Tuesday Fundraiser Collects Cash for Taylorville Tornado Relief

Tuesday Fundraiser Collects Cash for Taylorville Tornado Relief

December 4 – Tuesday morning, over the course of 3 hours, stories were told of survivors, and a community coming together with the support of communities close to home and from around the state.

Donations are still being accepted until 5pm through the United Way donation portal. You can give by following the link HERE

On Saturday, December 1st, Taylorville took a direct hit from a tornado, damaging an estimated 100 buildings and injuring at least 30 people.

Tuesday morning during Byers & Company from 6-9am, WSOY raised funds to be used to help families who lost everything and to help feed the numerous volunteers aiding in the clean-up and recovery.

The first $15,000 donated was matched dollar for dollar with all of the cash going directly to the Taylorville Food Pantry to assist those in need.

Volunteers from the United Way of Decatur and Mid Illinois manned the phones throughout the morning taking donations from listeners wanting to help. After appearing on Byers & Co., Congressman Rodney Davis, a Taylorville native, spent the next hour after his interview answering phones, taking donations, and thanking those who were calling in.

Donations also came in from across the country through the United Way’s online donation portal, which they allowed NowDecatur.com to use free of charge.

By the end of the show at 9am, a total of $50,000 had been raised with money continuing to come in. Again, donations are still being accepted until 5pm through the United Way donation portal. You can give by following the link HERE

Scott Warns of Threatening New Scam

Scott Warns of Threatening New Scam

December 4 – Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott says that a disturbing new telephone scam has been reported in Macon County.

Scott says the call utilizes a computer-generated male voice, which threatens to kill the receiver of the call, and his or her extended family, unless payment of $10,000 is made. The call further states that the intended victim has been under surveillance, and includes a warning not to notify the police.

Residents are advised to hang up if one of these calls is received.

If you suspect a scam please call the Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-217-615-7582. All calls are answered by State’s Attorney Jay Scott. For more information on scams, please visit the State’s Attorney’s website at www.sa-macon-il.us.

UPDATE: Clean-up Continues After Tornadoes; Fundraiser Announced

UPDATE: Clean-up Continues After Tornadoes; Fundraiser Announced

December 3 – Residents in central Illinois on Sunday assessed the damage after rare December tornadoes, including one the day before that was a half-mile-wide, ripped roofs off homes, downed power lines and injured at least 20 people.

The severe weather in Illinois was part of a line of thunderstorms that raked areas of the central U.S. late Friday and into Saturday, killing one person in Missouri. The National Weather Service confirmed tornadoes in Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Peak months for tornadoes in much of the Midwest are April and June, according to the weather service. But at least 12 tornadoes were reported in Illinois on Saturday, including one in Taylorville which has been confirmed. If the majority are confirmed, that would be the most tornadoes in Illinois in a December storm since Dec. 18-19, 1957, when there were 21.

In an effort to assist those who’ve been affected, WSOY will host a three-hour fundraiser from 6-9 a.m. Tuesday. The goal is to raise $20,000 to give to the Taylorville Food Pantry. Find more details here.

The weather service sent crews Sunday to survey the hardest-hit areas in Illinois, which included Taylorville. Photographs and video from Taylorville showed several houses flattened, with residents wading into debris to salvage what they could. Some homes remained standing but with gaping holes in the roofs or with no roofs at all.

The tornado was on the ground for around 10 miles (16 kilometers) before it thundered through Taylorville, and the weather service was able to warn residents of its arrival 41 minutes before it actually struck, Chris Miller, a meteorologist at the service’s Lincoln office, said in a phone interview Sunday. That advanced warning gave people critical time to take cover and may have saved lives.

Assistant Fire Chief Andy Goodall, speaking to reporters Saturday night shortly after the storm pounded the city of 11,000, said at least 100 homes had major damage, including his own, Springfield’s State Journal-Register reported.

A Taylorville Memorial Hospital spokesman said 21 people, from age 9 to 97, arrived for treatment Saturday. Most were released within hours. Miller said three people remained hospitalized as of Sunday afternoon.

Miller said preliminary estimates are that the Taylorville tornado may have been an EF2, which indicates wind speeds as high as 135 mph. It could take several more days to know for sure.

At least seven twisters touched down across Central Illinois, according to the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

The tornado that hit Taylorville is estimated to be an EF-2 with winds up to 130 mph. About 100 homes were damaged. No deaths have been reported.

Source: The Associated Press, with staff reports

30 Hospitalized in Taylorville Tornado Saturday Night

30 Hospitalized in Taylorville Tornado Saturday Night

December 2 – Christmas lights have been replaced by emergency lights in the central Illinois town of Taylorville after a suspected out of season tornado pounced on the town of 11-thousand Saturday night. Hundreds of structures were damaged and 30 people have been hospitalized with storm related injuries, some of them serious.

Authorities are also dealing with the aftermath of mother nature and human nature.  Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettlekamp says some opportunists added insult to injury.

“We had some reports of looting, we do have squad cars out there, we have some roads blocked off, we’re checking their driver’s license, they have to have a reason why they need to go through there.”

Taylorville native Congressman Rodney Davis says the town’s stiff upper lip will get them past mother nature’s unwanted surprise.

“You can never control mother nature, and you can never control the time. Just like the few inches of snow we had early last month, these are the opportunities where you get to see communities come together and Taylorville has always come together in times of struggle like this. We’ll see the assessments Sunday and then we’ll move ahead and see what assistance the community needs.”

At least a dozen people were trapped in their homes after the powerful twister.   Task forces are working to make sure no one else is trapped.

Tornado warnings were also issued for Macon County. EMA Director Sheriff’s Lieutenant Jim Root reported damage just east of Boody, with one person reportedly trapped in their basement.

Photo Credit: Robert Wolfe

UPDATED: SUV Crash in Lake Decatur Claims the Life of a Decatur Man

UPDATED: SUV Crash in Lake Decatur Claims the Life of a Decatur Man

December 1 – A 21-year-old Decatur man who died after his SUV became submerged in Lake Decatur after a Friday crash has been identified as Dillion Astramsky.

Macon County Coroner Michael Day identified Astramsky as the victim in a media release Saturday. He suffered head and neck trauma as well as hypothermia and asphyxia.

At approximately 7:52 PM Friday evening, Decatur Police Department Officers responded to a traffic crash that occurred near the intersection of North Country Club Road and East Cantrell Street.

Upon arriving officers discovered that a mid-size SUV had left the roadway to the south into a grassy area surrounding the lake. The SUV then continued its path and ultimately overturned and became submerged in Lake Decatur. Officers discovered that three individuals were trapped in the overturned and submerged vehicle.

With combined rescue efforts of multiple agencies, all three individuals were extricated from the vehicle. All three were transported by Decatur Ambulance to local hospitals. Astramsky was identified as the driver and there were two children ages 8 and 11 that were back seat passengers. Both girls escaped serious injury.

Astramsky sustained life threatening injuries as a result of the crash and later succumbed to his injuries. The children also sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Members of the Fatal Accident Investigation Team responded to the scene, and East bound and West bound traffic was completely shut down in the 3800 block of E. Cantrell for approximately 4½ hours.

Woman dies in afternoon crash: Day also identified a 78-year-old woman who died in a crash earlier Friday afternoon as Barbara Otto of Decatur.

Otto was brought to the Decatur Memorial Hospital emergency room following the two-vehicle collision in the 1000 block of West Harrison. Day said Otto suffered head trauma and may have experienced another medical emergency prior to or during the crash.

HSHS St Mary’s Ceremony Lights the Christmas Star for the Holiday Season

HSHS St Mary’s Ceremony Lights the Christmas Star for the Holiday Season

November 29 – Loved ones will be remembered this holiday season as HSHS St. Mary’s lit their Christmas Star Wednesday night.

The 24-foot-tall star sits 132 feet in the air on top of the hospital.  It was purchased with a donation from the late Dr. John “Rocky” White in 1998.  The annual fundraising event put on by the hospital’s foundation, offers up the 700 lights for people to purchase to remember and honor loved ones this holiday season.

HSHS St. Mary’s Decatur Interim President and CEO E.J. Kuiper opened the Wednesday night ceremony, which included prayers and readings from Father Nick Husain and Sister Ritamary Brown. There was also holiday music from the First Christian Church Ensemble, and the reading of the names being dedicated on the star by Val Jordan, Matt Bennett, Julie Hovis and Jared Kennedy.

At the end of the ceremony in the lobby, those in the lobby were invited outside to watch, with the flip of a switch, HSHS St. Mary’s turned on the bright star and filled the night sky with light.

WSOY and NowDecatur.com broadcast the ceremony live.  The full podcast of Wednesday night’s Ceremony can be found HERE

Davis Says New Farm Bill Needs to Offer Path to Employment

Davis Says New Farm Bill Needs to Offer Path to Employment

November 26 – With the holiday over and the elections in the rearview mirror, lawmakers in the nation’s capital are getting back to work. A central Illinois congressman says one thing we can expect soon is a farm bill.

The new farm bill that will replace the one that’s expired is in conference committee to combine the House and Senate versions. One important component of the bill is how to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Amelia Kegan with Friends Committee on National Legislation said the group opposes the House version that would peel back waivers for states to get out of the work requirements for those who get food assistance, despite a booming economy. Kegan said lawmakers should instead address barriers to employment.

Congressman Rodney Davis, said that’s what they’re trying to do. “No one is saying we’re going to take benefits away from folks,” Davis said. “We’re actually saying folks who are on benefits and stuck in that cycle of poverty, let’s give them training dollars.” Davis said there are already requirements for able-bodied, single people to try to get a job while getting SNAP, but states like Illinois have been getting waivers from those requirements based on unemployment rates and other factors.

Davis wants to address work training for those on food assistance on the conference committee tasked with merging the House and Senate versions of the bill. He says the farm bill will be a top priority before lawmakers end of the year and the new Congress takes over.

Illinois Farm Bureau National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen said the bureau doesn’t have a position on work requirements for those who use food stamps, and that it’s frustrating that it’s one of the sticking points in getting the bill across the finish line.

Monday is the Deadline to File for Decatur Mayor and City Council

Monday is the Deadline to File for Decatur Mayor and City Council

November 26 – Monday is the final day for residents to file petitions to run for Mayor of the City of Decatur or one of the three seats on Decatur City Council up for election in 2019.

Petitions need to be filed before 5 p.m. in the office of the City Clerk, located on the third floor of the Decatur Civic Center, 1 Gary K. Anderson Plaza. Petitions must contain the signatures of 115 registered voters.

Council candidates must be United States citizens, registered voters, age 18 or older and must reside within the city limits for one year preceding the election.

So far four candidates have announced plans to run for Mayor of Decatur. Those include incumbent Mayor Julie Moore-Wolfe, Kara Demirjian-Huss, Jacob Jenkins, and Decatur City Councilman David Horn.

A number of others have said they plan on running for the Decatur City Council. Those include Shavon Francis, Rodney Walker, Marty Jenkins, Shelith Hansbro and John Phillips Jr.

A total of five candidates will need to file to force a primary in the race for Mayor, while 13 will need to file for council. If necessary, the Primary would be held February 26th, while the Consolidated Election is set for April 6th.