SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Bruce Rauner has been sworn in as Illinois’ 42nd governor.
The Republican businessman took the oath of office Monday during an inaugural ceremony in Springfield. He is the first Republican to lead the state in more than a decade.
During his inaugural speech, Rauner announced that his first official act as governor is ordering state agencies to freeze non-essential spending.
Rauner also says he’s asking state agencies to review all contracts signed since Nov. 1. And the wealthy businessman is cutting his own salary to $1 and declining any benefits.
Rauner is the first Republican governor to lead Illinois in more than a decade. He faces a Democratic-controlled Legislature and a multibillion-dollar budget hole.
Rauner says lawmakers’ history of spending money the state doesn’t have has made Illinois less competitive.
He also promised to change the culture in state government to make the state more attractive to businesses.
“To the people of Illinois and the people outside of our state who’ve been reluctant to business here because of insider deals and cronyism, I say this: I’m nobody that nobody sent.”
Rauner says he’ll issue executive orders Tuesday to strengthen ethics in the executive branch.
Rauner’s inaugural festivities kicked off Saturday with a dinner at the Capitol. He and his wife will greet people during an afternoon open house at the Old State Capitol. On Monday night country singer Toby Keith and bluesman Buddy Guy will headline an inaugural concert.
Rauner is a wealthy private equity investor who has never before held public office.
DECATUR – Some people cannot afford to have a reliable vehicle, but when one is given to you, it can be pretty life changing.
“I was so shocked. It’s hard to say someone is deserving of anything, but I am so glad to have these people in my life,” says Robin Whitaker of Argenta.
Whitaker was the recipient of the Newell’s Auto Body Christmas Wish. It’s been a hard year for Whitaker, but now she is the owner of a fully-refurbished 2005 Cadillac CTS, along with several other items. Dishing out several thanks, Whitaker says she is excited to have a vehicle she doesn’t have to worry about.
“My best vehicle is my van right now, and just driving here I could smell the burnt oil,” says Whitaker, “and my daughter is about to be driving age. But I don’t think she will not be driving my new Cadillac, that’s for sure.”
Our team at NowDecatur received over 300 nominations for the car, but, aside from being very deserving, Whitaker was nominated the most by 90 different people. A friend of Robin’s shared her story with us. Robin’s husband Todd Whitaker was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in May of 2013, and passed away this year on May 31st. Todd was an ER nurse, volunteer firefighter, husband and father. Together they have four school-aged kids, so you can imagine how hard it was for the family to make ends meet.
“Daily, people say they are praying for me and I know I have them by my side,” she says. “I just can’t thank everyone enough. This is a true blessing.”
Newell’s owner Todd Newell says it was their pleasure to give someone a vehicle that they certainly deserve.
“She is a very deserving woman and we are just glad we could help her out,” he says. “I just wish we had 10 of these to give away.”
Along with the car, Whitaker gets a $50 gas card from Billingsley Automotive, $50 in car washes from Rainstorm, $80 from Speed Lube, $100 in dry cleaning from Peerless, and 6 months of car insurance from Country Financial Agent Jeff Ludwick.
DECATUR– One of Decatur’s staple restaurants is breaking new ground.
Krekel’s West, one of 5 fast food restaurants bearing the Krekel’s signature, broke ground on a new store Monday morning. Krekel’s West owner Todd Teel’s new store will be located just one lot north of the current location inside Coloniel Mall.
“We have been in the mall for quite a while now and people always ask me when I was going to build out and do a standalone store,” Teel said. “Once this lot became open for purchase a year or so ago I just felt it was time to make the jump.”
Teel says the 3000 square foot store will have room for inside seating, outdoor covered seating, and a drive-thru, “we think the drive-thru is going to be our best addition because of the traffic we see in this area,” Teel added.
While the Krekel’s name is an institution in Decatur, Teel says the new store will hold some significance that the other four locations don’t, “This will be the first Krekel’s from the ground up… every store other than ours was moved into their location after the brick and mortar were put in place.”
Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce President Mirinda Rothrock said the new store will be a continuation of good things on Decatur’s west side, “We have the new high school over here, the Walgreens was put up a couple of years ago, we recently had the County Market open up… the momentum keeps rolling for this part of town.”
Teel says the weather will dictate the pace of the construction of the building but expects it to be finished within four to five months. Until the new building is complete, Krekel’s West will remain open in their current location.
Krekel’s West is one of five locations for the hamburger and custard shop; others include Krekel’s Custard on Wood Street, Krekel’s Dairy Maid on Main Street, Krekel’s Kustard on Woodford Street, and Krekel’s Custard on Rt. 121.
WSOY and our community partners, ADM, Team Soy – Soy Capital Bank & J.L. Hubbard Insurance and Bonds, Skeff Distributing, Jones & Thomas/JTnet, Decatur Back & Neck Center, Tickets N Trips, First Christian Church, Dale’s Southlake Pharmacy & Colee’s Corner Drugs, DynaGraphics/Wood Printing, United Way, Kroger, Herald & Review, and WAND-TV want to thank the entire community for another successful and amazing WSOY Community Food Drive. The 14th annual WSOY Community Food Drive on October 9th was a tremendous success, raising 1,271,080 pounds of food in 12 hours! All food and money collected is given to Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army. And because of the wonderful generosity of the community we are also able to give funds to the Good Samaritan Inn, Northeast Community Fund, the Judy Mason Thanksgiving Basket Project and Reasonable Services Inc.
Thanks to our community partners, we are giving substantial financial awards to the top five local schools that collected the most food for our drive. This year’s cash awards are as follows: (For a full list of school totals, see below)
1st Place – $2,500 – St. Pats
2nd Place – $1,500 – St. Teresa
3rd Place – $1,000 – Holy Family
4th Place – $750 – Mt Zion High School
5th Place – $500 – Warrensburg Latham
From large companies to small businesses, schools and community groups, churches and people just stopping by to give, we couldn’t have done it without you. A special thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who gave their time to make the food drive a success. In addition, thank you to our in-kind donors : Dynagraphics/Wood Printing , Dunn Co., Hite Tent Rental, Napa Auto, Central Illinois Scale, Parke Warehouse, Lamar Advertising, Refreshment Services Pepsi, Decatur Park District, Kroger, Knights of Columbus, Bendsen Signs & Graphics, Dawson & Wikoff, ADM, First Christian Church, McDonalds, Kroger, Papa Murphy’s, Marquis Beverage, Olive Garden, Culver’s and Little Ceasars.
September 16, 2019 – The Decatur Family YMCA is preparing for the WSOY Community Food Drive on October 4th by collecting cans and giving you a chance to win. The “Feeding your Community, Feeding your health” table is located in the YMCA lobby. For every canned food donation you bring in, you will be entered…Continue Reading
September 11, 2019 – Our friends at Hickory Point Bank kicked off the WSOY Community Food Drive Season with a shuffle board event in Central Park called “Push Comes To Shuffle!.” Listen to the podcasts with our friends at Hickory Point Bank to learn why they are so invested in our community and the WSOY…Continue Reading
September 5, 2019– The 18th Annual WSOY Community Food Drive to help stock local food pantries will be held on Friday, October 4th at the Airport Plaza Kroger grocery store in Decatur (more details). Details of the event were announced Thursday morning during a news conference at St Pats School. Last year, the drive collected…Continue Reading
DECATUR – Gov. Bruce Rauner, Archer Daniels Midland President/CEO Juan Luciano and many more were in Decatur to help introduce the market launch of the Midwest Inland Port on Friday.
President of the Economic Development Corporation Ryan McCrady began the introduction by highlighting the important strategic advantages the Midwest Inland Port (MIP) provides.
“I think what everyone saw today was that we have always had the pieces of the puzzle, but now they will start to be put in place,” says McCrady. “We are definitely hoping this will create an outstanding picture of what the future holds for Decatur and Macon County.”
McCrady also introduced members of the Strategic Development Coalition, which is comprised of several business leaders involved with the MIP.
“The organizations that comprise the Strategic Development Coalition represent a combination of global, national, regional and local perspectives that are all important as we work to achieve the potential of the Midwest Inland Port development,” said McCrady.
ADM CEO/President Juan Luciano spoke very highly of the MIP and its importance to ADM as well as Decatur and Macon County.
“As we at ADM continue making changes to strengthen our company in light of emerging opportunities in the marketplace, we are eager for Decatur and central Illinois to join us on this journey,” says Luciano. “The MIP represents one vital, important step in this journey. Now it is incumbent to us to think big about the future, to embrace innovation, and to work in partnership to usher in a new era of growth, diversification and overall quality of life in our region.”
Luciano says ADM is working very hard to make Illinois a major leader in food and beverage production and exports.
The members of the Strategic Development Coalition all spoke about their involvement with the MIP and gave reasons why the port is so vital to the City of Decatur and Macon County. The members included Scott Fredericksen- President of Transportation for ADM, Ron Pate- Senior Vice President for Ameren Illinois, Kevin McKenna- Executive Vice President of Clayco, Ken Smithmier, President/CEO of DMH, Kevin Shuba- CEO of OmniTRAX, and Jim Shultz- Director of the State of Illinois DCEO.
Ron Pate with Ameren Illinois says their company is a major player in the port because they offer the infrastructure to support any major operation that wants to come in. Since Ameren can provide electricity and gas for the area, Pate says they are also very invested on making the MIP a big sell for prospective companies.
“Ameren has a vested interest in this community and we are proud to be part of the team for this market launch,” says Pate. “We all know Decatur is perfectly suited to help businesses grow and flourish, and the MIP will serve as a centerpiece for those efforts.”
CEO of OmniTRAX Kevin Shuba shared some stories of their success in other parts of the country and said he wanted to bring that success here to Decatur in the form of a big industrial park. Essentially, the park would be available for many businesses to develop and grow in an area very close to one another.
“We created a huge industrial park in northern Colorado and were able to bring in 15 companies that created over 7500 jobs,” says Shuba. “We want that exact same success to come to Decatur and we believe that we can grow Decatur with a place like this.”
Gov. Rauner also appeared in the Shilling Center Auditorium and says he thinks the MIP is a big reason why Decatur can be a leader not just in Illinois, but all over the country.
“Today is about unleashing the incredible potential of the Illinois economy,” says Rauner. “Decatur is a bell cow for how Illinois prospers. Decatur can be, will be, and should be booming. We have every reason to thrive and we will be. That is what today is all about as the future is bright for Decatur.”
Luciano expanded on ADM’s plans and the reason they think the MIP is one of the best assets Decatur possesses.
“We are very proud of the investment we have made because we have expanded the capability of our container freight transportation,” says Luciano. “The amenities of the MIP has given us the ability to quickly and efficiently transport containers to each port for international shipment. This asset gives us the chance to help out other companies connect to open markets and create compelling reasons for more companies to locate here.”
Kevin Smithmier made the point that the MIP doesn’t only affect the transportation business, it could be an influence on all of the people and businesses of Decatur.
“I’ve been involved with countless efforts to make the city a better place in my 22 years with the hospital,” says Smithmier. “But when I saw the presentation on the plan for the Midwest Inland Port, I saw it wasn’t just a pipe dream, it was something that had the potential to make a major change in this community.”
Looking ahead, Ryan McCrady says the EDC hopes to entice new businesses to move to Decatur so we can have more jobs available. He says since Decatur already has all of the pieces in place to house big companies with the amenities of the MIP, the next step is to develop the relationships with new potential prospects.
MT. ZION– With concussions and brain injuries becoming more of a concern for football players across all levels nationwide, Mt. Zion High School’s athletic department is taking some extra steps to meet those concerns head on.
This season, when the Mt. Zion football team takes the field, 40 of their players are doing so with special mouth guards that allow athletic trainer Dustin Fink to track each and every time they are hit or their heads are disturbed.
Fink says this season the athletic department purchased 40 Vector mouth guards from i1 Biometrics that allows him, and the coaching staff to keep better track of their players, “Player safety is a huge thing for me and for the school district and I feel like being the first school in Illinois to adopt these mouth guards will make us trailblazers in a way.”
The mouth guards are equipped with an ESP chip that transmits the magnitude and location of the impact to a head in real time to an iPad, iPhone, or laptop that Fink carries with him on the sideline. In addition to the mouth guard information, Fink says Mt. Zion is also equipped with a video system that tracks each play, which he can watch back on the sideline.
“The overall goal here is to protect our players from not only in game injuries but also long term issues that come with being hit in the head over and over again,” Fink adds. “I am thankful that our athletic department saw the value in this and just with the information I’ve gotten over the last couple of weeks, I would say it’s already paid off.”
Mt. Zion is the only high school in the state of Illinois to be equipped with the Vector pieces; the company has focused mainly on the college level since they began development of the product back in 2006.
While the athletic department made the initial investment this year, Fink says he hopes that parents and players will begin to see the benefits and the program can expand next year.
Right now, each Vector mouth guard is covered by a full warranty for up to a year and at $200 apiece they are still a little pricey. Fink says he thinks people will start to see the benefits and will see the purchase as a wise investment, “This is another tool for my toolbox but it also opens up the discussion of concussions and long term head trauma between myself and my players and myself and our parents. When I show parents the data that I’ve collected I think many of them are shocked by what they see.”
While the focus on head trauma has been on the NFL, Fink says that concussions are just as, if not more, prevalent in high school an college. According to CBS News, all football players have a 75% chance of suffering a concussion, between 136,000 and 300,000 sustain one each year.
“I can’t say this enough that this is about our player’s safety,” Fink added. “These mouth guards allow us to see in real-time the effects that singular hits to the head, and what hits to the head over time can do to a player. We think we are on the forefront of player safety here at Mt. Zion.”
At 3 and 0 on the season, the Braves are next in action Friday as they take on Mattoon at Mattoon.
After losing the last ten meetings vs. MacArthur, Eisenhower busted into the win column in a big was winning 41-13. Salat Al-Nurridin rushed for 222 yards and 2 TDs while Cayleb Dehority threw for 175 yards and 3TD (1 rushing TD as well).
DECATUR– A city founded in 1829, not many ‘firsts’ happen in Decatur anymore, but Monday night was one of those rare occasions as Julie Moore-Wolfe was appointed to the position of Mayor, the first woman to claim that title in Decatur’s history.
Moore-Wolfe, a 6 year City Council veteran has served in the interim position since the sudden passing of late Mayor Mike McElroy a month ago.
Moore-Wolfe said Monday night that it was important for the council to appoint someone who had a similar vision of the community to McElroy’s, and she intends to follow through with that, “It’s an honor to get this opportunity, I have great respect for what Mayor McElroy did in this seat and I fully expect to continue his vision. We had similar ideas as to what we wanted to do as far as bringing jobs here, improving the neighborhoods, and doing what we thought was best for the citizens of Decatur and I think we can continue that.”
Moore-Wolfe said the last month has been a whirlwind, but having the opportunity to serve as Decatur’s first female Mayor never strayed from her mind, “The feedback I have gotten from the community, especially the women in this community has been refreshing and it’s something that I take pride in.”
“Women, especially around my age remember when Decatur elected its first City Councilwoman, Carol Brandt, in the 1970s, and their support through this has been huge,” Moore-Wolfe added.
Following the adjournment of Monday’s meeting, the Council met in closed session to discuss the future of the seat that is now left open following the appointment of Moore-Wolfe. City Manager Tim Gleason said the Council will have 60 days from Monday night to appoint a new council person. He said anybody from the community that meets the state issued criteria, and fills out an application, will be considered. No timeline was set for when they may make their decision.
Check out all of NowDecatur’s coverage of the 30th Annual Decatur Celebration! Photo galleries, videos and more!