Snow Emergency Announced for Mt. Zion

Snow Emergency Announced for Mt. Zion

January 18 – The Village of Mt. Zion will be under a snow emergency from 11:59 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Sunday.

During the snow emergency, parking is prohibited on all village streets, and no one is allowed to leave any vehicle unattended.

The Mt. Zion Police will tow vehicles in violation of the snow emergency at the owners’ expense. Violators will be subject to associated parking fines and fees.

In other winter weather-related announcements, Richland Community College has canceled New Student Orientation planned for Saturday and the Freshman Placement Test at St. Teresa High School has been rescheduled to February 9.

NWS Issues Winter Storm Warning for Saturday

NWS Issues Winter Storm Warning for Saturday

January 18 – The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the entire day Saturday.

The warning covers Macon, Piatt, Champaign and Vermilion counties and will be in effect from midnight Friday and until midnight Saturday. Precipitation may begin as a mix of rain, snow, and freezing rain between Interstates 72 and 70.

Heavy snowfall is expected with total snow accumulation between 4 and 6 inches and winds gusting as high as 35 mph, causing significant drifts possible. The wind will reduce visibility and create hazardous travel conditions with slippery roads. The latest road conditions can be found at

Cold air and low wind chills will follow this weather system, and another storm has the potential for more accumulating snow on Tuesday.

Hickory Street Fire Damages Residence

Hickory Street Fire Damages Residence

January 18 – A kitchen fire at a Hickory Street residence Thursday caused significant smoke damage and displaced a woman and her two children.

Decatur Fire Department crews arrived at 1212 E. Hickory Street shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday and found heavy smoke coming from the kitchen. Firefighters had the blaze under control in about 10 minutes.

No one was injured; a smoke alarm alerted the woman to the fire and she and her kids were able to exit the building safely. They are being assisted by the Red Cross.

Damage to the home was estimated at around $6,000.

IEMA Urges Residents to Prepare for Winter Storm

IEMA Urges Residents to Prepare for Winter Storm

January 18 – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency encourages all Illinoisans to prepare for another blast of winter weather.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for a winter storm with accumulating snow to arrive Illinois beginning today, followed by a blast of cold arctic air that will bring single digit wind chills to our state.

“Being unprepared for winter weather is not only inconvenient, it’s dangerous,” said IEMA Chief of Staff Jennifer Ricker. “With more snow and dangerously cold temperatures on tap for much of the state, the time to act is now to ensure you and your family are prepared for everything from a dusting of snow to a major winter storm.”

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency maintains the Ready Illinois website ( which includes critical safety information to help Illinoisans before, during and after any hazard, manmade or natural.

Winter Weather Preparedness tips include:

  • Familiarize yourself with the various weather alert definitions, so you know how to keep your family safe;
  • Winterize your home and take steps to prevent frozen water pipes;
  • Don’t wait. Communicate. Create and discuss emergency plans for you and your family;
  • Charge your mobile devices before any storm;
  • Build a home emergency kit with items such as a food, water, medications, NOAA weather radio, flashlight and spare batteries;
  • Stock your vehicle with the emergency items such as a first aid kit, phone charger, blankets, extra clothes, jumper cables, kitty litter or sand, a flashlight and snow scraper in the event you must travel;
  • If you lose power, seek out a warming center in your area until the power can be restored.

A list of warming centers can be found on the Ready Illinois website.

As the winter storm approaches, public safety officials urge residents to stay ahead of the storm by following the watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

When possible, stay off the roads during and immediately after a storm to allow crews to effectively clear and appropriately treat area roadways. Those who must travel during a storm should remember to share the road. Illinois law requires drivers to change lanes when approaching police or other emergency vehicles.

More tips for staying safe at home and on the road are available in a Winter Weather Preparedness guide developed by IEMA and the National Weather Service, available in digital form on the Ready Illinois website.

Davis Named Ranking Member for Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

Davis Named Ranking Member for Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

January 17 – U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis today has been named one of the six ranking members for the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

As a subcommittee ranking member, Davis will help craft a national infrastructure package.

Davis was appointed by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Davis has served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee since 2013.

“It’s been an honor to serve on this committee for my tenure in Congress, and I’m thankful to Ranking Member Graves for this incredible leadership opportunity,” said Davis.

“We have an opportunity for true bipartisanship and to actually get something done. Roads and bridges impact every single American and are critical to our economy.”

Decatur Sees Significant Decrease in Crime

Decatur Sees Significant Decrease in Crime

January 17 – Violent crimes in Decatur were down nearly 20 percent and property crimes dropped by nearly 15 percent according to statistics released Thursday by Decatur Police Chief Jim Getz.

In a media release, Getz said “officers should be commended for their hard work in bringing these crimes down. The citizens should also be commended for taking steps to help the city become a safer and more secure place.”

Gets reported total violent crimes were down 19.4 percent and property crimes fell 14.5 percent. A breakdown showed a 10 percent drop in homicides, a 42.3 percent drop in sexual assaults, a 23.3 percent drop in arson and a 20.8 percent decline in robbery. Dropoffs in aggravated assault and battery, vehicle theft, retail theft and burglary ranged from 14.9-16.3 percent.

“The Decatur Police Department will continue to work very hard and remain proactive in reducing crime in 2019,” said Getz.

State Unemployment Up Slightly Amid Job Growth

State Unemployment Up Slightly Amid Job Growth

January 17 – Unemployment in Illinois ticked up in December while the state added more than 13,000 jobs, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

The figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the unemployment rate at 4.3 percent after standing at 4.2 percent in November. Job growth over the three month period from October to December saw an average monthly increase of 9,500.

“It’s clear there is room to both grow the Illinois economy and create opportunity for working families,” said Deputy Governor Dan Hynes.

November’s job gain was revised upward to 8,000 from the preliminary figure of 5,900. Over the year in 2018, nonfarm payrolls increased by 71,000 jobs.

The state’s unemployment figure is 0.4 percent above the national rate for December. Illinois unemployment is down 0.6 percent from December 2017.

Pritzker Signs Oft-rejected Gun-dealer Licensing

Pritzker Signs Oft-rejected Gun-dealer Licensing

January 17 – Gov. J.B. Pritzker authorized state regulation of firearms dealers Thursday in a reversal of his predecessor’s policy and prompting a gun owners group to threaten legal action against Illinois.

Pritzker, sworn in on Monday, chose an elementary school in Chicago to sign legislation meant to cut down on illegal purchases of firearms through video monitoring, tighter inventory control and gun-shop employee training.

“We can prevent someone from buying a gun for someone else who is not legally allowed to own a gun,” said Pritzker, standing next to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, whose force confiscated 10,000 illegal guns last year. “Many of the incidents of gun violence that occur in our city and all across our state occur with illegal guns.”

The law affects about 2,400 firearms dealers and its provisions take effect in six months. Each must show it is licensed with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and purchase a five-year state permit — $1,500 for retail shops and $300 for independent dealers. Each must install videotaping in retail sections of the store, maintain an electronic inventory and require annual employee training in spotting so-called straw purchases.

The Illinois State Rifle Association promised a lawsuit challenging the plan.

“The federal government already licenses gun dealers. There is no need to add yet another layer of bureaucracy on gun dealers,” executive director Richard Pearson said in a statement. “The only thing this measure is going to do is make it cost more money for gun dealers to do business in Illinois, which is going to hurt the smaller dealers.

“The action taken today is another assault on our 2nd Amendment rights.”

Pritzker, who already this week reversed course on GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner’s policies toward labor with pro-union action, said gun-rights organizations are “just wrong” in their criticism of the licensing bill. He added, “I’m going to continue to make sure that we’re standing up to the voices like the Illinois State Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association to protect our families and our children.”

Lawmakers endorsed the idea twice last year. Rauner vetoed the first version in March. Democrats who control the General Assembly, led by Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park, OK’d it again in May but never sent it to Rauner for consideration.

“Thank you for figuring out in four days what some other people couldn’t figure out in four years,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said to Pritzker. “You don’t need a Ph.D. from Harvard to figure out that if you’re going to regulate a barber shop and a bar, maybe you should regulate a gun dealer.”

SOURCE: Associated Press

MLK Banquet Set for Friday

MLK Banquet Set for Friday

January 17 – The 33rd annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet presented by the City of Decatur Human Relations Commission will be held Friday at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel.

Journalist and political pundit Roland Martin will be the guest speaker. Doors open at 6:15 p.m., with dinner served at 7 o’clock.

The annual banquet is organized by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Steering Committee, a subcomittee of the Decatur Human Relations Commission.

A Texas native who lives in Virginia, Martin has reached national audiences on television, radio and online as a news commentator and analyst. He spent six years with CNN as a contributor from 2007-13.

Tickets cost $45 and are available online through a link on the City of Decatur website (here).

Area Braces for Next Winter Wallop

Area Braces for Next Winter Wallop

January 17 – Illinois residents are beginning to brace themselves for a storm the National Weather Service says could bring a half-foot of snow to parts of the state.

National Weather Service forecasters say the storm is expected to start Friday afternoon. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 6 inches are possible in northern and central Illinois through Saturday, with drifting and blowing snow expected thanks to 30 mph wind gusts.

Forecasters say it’s a complex weather system and accumulation predictions could change. The storm is due a week after parts of Illinois received double-digit snow accumulations.

The National Weather Service’s forecast for the Decatur area on Friday and Saturday anticipates the possibility of 2 to 4 inches of snow both days.

Precipitation may begin Friday evening as a mix of rain, snow, and freezing rain south of Interstate 72. Hazardous driving conditions are expected to develop Friday Night and continue into the weekend.

SOURCE: Associated Press with staff contributions