Fewer Unemployment Filings Last Week

Fewer Unemployment Filings Last Week

August 13, 2020 – Fewer people are filing for unemployment in Illinois, but it’s still in the tens of thousands a week.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports nearly 22,900 Illinoisans filed for initial unemployment benefits last week. That’s down about 2,800 from the total that filed the week before.

Around 1.5 million Illinoisans have filed since the beginning of March.

For the first time since mid-March, the number of initial weekly claims was below 1 million nationally last week.

Decatur Park District Offering Programs to Students During E-Learning

Decatur Park District Offering Programs to Students During E-Learning

August 11, 2020 – The Decatur Park District will offer programs to help meet the needs of working parents with students attending school virtually, and the need for physical activity during e-learning.  Fall day camp will be held at the Decatur Indoor Sports Center to provide a safe place for students ages 5-14 during their school day.  Students can work on their e-learning assignments and will also have access to group games, arts and crafts and time for free play.  Students will be provided with a snack but will need to bring their own mask, e-learning devices, headphones, lunch and a water bottle.  The day camp will start on Monday, August 17th and will continue through October 9th.  The fee will be $160 a week ($140 with resident discount)  It will be held Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Decatur Park District will also offer a P.E. in the Park Program at Fairview Park Pavillion #1 to provide an opportunity for students ages 5-13 to remain active during virtual learning.  The program will include running, soccer, kickball, whiffle ball and other outdoor fitness activities.  Students can choose to attend on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:15 a.m. to noon for a fee of $69 dollars ($62 with resident discount).  Students who would like to attend all four sessions will have the option available to them.  Students should wear athletic outfits and tennis shoes and come prepared with their own masks and water bottles.

Current CDC and IDPH guidelines for sanitation, social distancing and face coverings will be followed for both programs.  To register, call 217-429-3472 or go online to www.decatur-parks.org.



Congressman Rodney Davis Tests Positive for COVID-19

Congressman Rodney Davis Tests Positive for COVID-19

August 5, 2020 – Congressman Rodney Davis announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Davis says he had consulted with the Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) of Congress and local county health officials and his office is contacting constituents he had met with in-person within the previous 48 hours, per CDC guidelines.  Davis has also canceled upcoming events until he receives a negative test.

“This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have taken my temperature twice daily because serving in Congress means I interact with many people, and it’s my duty to protect the health of those I serve. This morning, my temperature clocked in at 99 degrees Fahrenheit, which is higher than normal for me.

“Because of the high temperature, my wife and I received a test this morning. While my test came back positive, my wife’s test came back negative. My staff who I’ve worked with in-person this week have received negative tests as well. Other than a higher-than-normal temperature, I am showing no symptoms at this time and feel fine.”

“I will continue to serve my constituents virtually from home while I quarantine. Our district offices throughout central and southwestern Illinois remain open for constituents as well.
“During these challenging times, protecting the public health is my highest priority. If you’re out in public, use social distancing, and when you can’t social distance, please wear a mask. All of us must do our part. That’s what it will take to get through this pandemic.”
Decatur City Council Adopts Emergency Order To Help Stem Spread Of COVID

Decatur City Council Adopts Emergency Order To Help Stem Spread Of COVID

August 3, 3030 – The Decatur city council voted to officially adopt ordinances related to a recent COVID Emergency order.

Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe issued the emergency order in late July that would give the power to revoke the liquor licenses of bars and restaurants not following health guidelines.

The council voted 4-2 to adopt the guidelines and make it a city ordinance. The rules include no more than 10 people at a table, face-coverings over the nose and mouth by employees and customers except when eating or drinking at their table, 6 feet spacing between seating and tables and capacity maximums set by the IDPH under Phase 4 of Restore Illinois.



COVID-19 uptick puts 11 Illinois counties in ‘warning level’

COVID-19 uptick puts 11 Illinois counties in ‘warning level’

August 1, 2020 – Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration urged additional vigilance by local officials in 11 counties where there are upticks in COVID-19 cases.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported there are 11 counties in “warning level” status because of the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the highly contagious and potentially lethal COVID-19. Online data shows there are 13.

The counties are Cass, Gallatin, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Perry, Randolph, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair and White.

The health department uses a variety of indicators to determine warning-level status, including increased new infections per 100,000 people, a 20% increase in deaths two weeks in a row, availability of intensive care units in hospitals, hospital admissions and more. An area hits warning level by surpassing at least two indicators.

Public health officials reported 1,941 new cases in the state Thursday, the first time the daily number has topped 1,900 since April 27, during the height of the initial outbreak. In the 145 consecutive days since March 9 that Public Health has reported new cases, there have been only 27 days when more new infections were recorded.

With declining numbers in June, Pritzker ushered the state into the fourth phase of a five-part Restore Illinois plan which gradually loosens restrictions on social interaction. The governor has warned that regions of the state where the outbreak spikes will see what he calls “surge mitigation,” or the restoration of restrictions which, during the initial outbreak last spring, included closing bars and restaurants, limiting groups to no more than 10, and even requiring people to stay at home unless departure is essential.

In the meantime, Pritzker pointed to swift action taken in some of the warning-level counties. Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder issued an executive order Friday outlining stringent rules for restaurant dining, including fines for employees not wearing face coverings to discourage transmission of the virus. Visitation at Perry County hospitals and nursing homes has been suspended. In Jackson County, the state’s attorney has authorized enforcement of COVID-19 precautions at restaurants and bars through the local ordinance governing the preparation and serving of food.

Overall, the state has witnessed 7,495 deaths among 178,837 confirmed cases. In most instances, those who contracted the illness have recovered. But experts believe that the true number of infections is much higher because not everyone has been tested for the virus and not everyone who contracts it displays symptoms.

Gov Announces New Guidelines for Youth and Recreational Sports

Gov Announces New Guidelines for Youth and Recreational Sports

July 29, 2020 -Governor JB Pritzker announced today guidance for youth and adult recreational sports, including, but not limited to, school-based sports, travel clubs, private leagues and clubs, recreational leagues and centers, and park district sports programs. Collegiate sports and professional leagues are not impacted by these restrictions. The guidance was developed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) following consultation with a number of stakeholders including the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and the Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA). The complete guidelines are available online at the state COVID-19 website: https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/.

“I know our hearts break when we hear the word ‘restrictions,’ especially when it comes to our children’s love for their sports. Whether this year is their first time on the court or it’s their senior season – this isn’t the news anyone wants to hear,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “But with rising rates of spread of the virus, with rising positivity rates throughout Illinois and the United States, this is a situation where the toughest choice is also the safest one. Therefore today, my administration is releasing new guidance restricting youth and adult recreational sports in Illinois. We have worked in consultation with the governing bodies of many of these organized sports programs, and collectively we hope that, when metrics and risks improve measurably, we will be able to restart these sports.”


The newly released guidance categorizes sports into three risk levels, lower, medium, or higher, based on the amount of contact between athletes and their proximity during play. The guidance sets four levels of play allowed based on current public health conditions. In level 1, only no-contact practices and training are allowed. In level 2, intra-team scrimmages are allowed with parental consent for minors but there can be no competitive play. In level 3 intra-conference, intra-EMS-region or intra-league play is allowed and there may be state- or league-championship games allowed for low-risk sports only. In level 4, tournaments, out-of-conference/league play, and out-of-state play are allowed. Championship games would also be allowed in level 4.

This guidance takes effect Saturday, August 15th. Based on current conditions, lower risk sports can be played at levels 1, 2, and 3. Medium risk sports can be played at levels 1 and 2, and higher risk sports can be played at level 1.

“Daily physical activity is an important part of staying healthy,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many of our activities, including sports.  Some sports carry an inherently higher risk of exposure because of direct contact, like football and wrestling, while others have a lower risk, like golf and bowling.  As we learn to coexist with COVID-19, we must be smart and measured in how we go about it.  We want to encourage people to be physically active, but to be safe and understand the risks that come with certain activities.”

Similar to other guidance, sports organizations should make temperature checks available and participants and coaches should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and should not participate if they are experiencing illness.  If multiple individuals have symptoms or test positive, coaches or organizations should alert the local health department.  Sports organizers or coaches also must maintain attendance logs of participants for contact tracing purposes.

“Extracurricular activities and sports are an important part to a well-rounded education,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “This guidance is not meant to be a one-size-fits all approach and takes into account the inherent risk level of each individual sport and current public health conditions.”

Athletic equipment such as bats and hockey sticks should be cleaned between each use.  Other equipment, including personal gear such as hockey, football, lacrosse, or other sports using helmets, pads, or gloves should only be used by one person and not shared.

“This latest guidance builds on our ongoing efforts to partner with businesses, public institutions and communities across Illinois to ensure a safe return of key activities and the reopening of our economy,” said DCEO Acting Director, Michael Negron. “Informed by the latest guidance by our public health officials, the updated youth and recreation sports guidelines will allow us to partner with recreational and competitive sports industry leaders on reducing risk and protecting our communities. Doing so will allow us to make not only a faster health recovery, but also a faster economic recovery from COVID-19.”

Illinois first issued guidelines for youth and recreational sports in late May, when every region in the state advanced to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, marked by return to work, the reopening of retail as well as the return of specific recreational activities. The latest guidelines make adjustments to temporarily halt competitive play for most higher to medium-risk sports pending further health progress, as well as to provide additional clarity on capacity limits and high school sports.

Legendary Fighting Illini Basketball Coach Lou Henson Passes Away at 88

Legendary Fighting Illini Basketball Coach Lou Henson Passes Away at 88

July 29, 2020 – Legendary Fighting Illini basketball coach and ambassador Lou Henson passed away peacefully in his Champaign home Saturday, July 25, the Henson family announced today. The Hall of Fame coach retired as the all-time leader in victories at both the University of Illinois with 423 wins and New Mexico State with 289 wins. Born January 10, 1932, Coach Henson was 88 at the time of his death.

A private graveside service was held with family members earlier today (Wednesday) in Champaign.

“Our Orange and Blue hearts are heavy,” said Josh Whitman, Illinois Director of Athletics. “We have lost an Illini icon. We have lost a role model, a friend, and a leader. We have lost our coach. Coach Henson may be gone, but the memories he provided us, and the legacy he created, will last forever. He was responsible for almost 800 wins in the record book and countless Fighting Illini moments frozen in time, but Coach Henson’s true measure will be felt in the lives he touched – the lives of his former players, people on this campus, and friends in our broader community. We are all better for whatever time we were privileged to spend with Coach Lou, whether it was five minutes or 50 years. He made everyone feel like a friend. I so enjoyed my time with Coach these last five years, and I will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary, Lisa, Lori, Leigh Anne, and the entire Henson family. Their family will always be part of ours.”

“It is a sad day for the Illinois Basketball family and Illini Nation as we mourn the passing of Lou Henson, the greatest coach in our program’s proud history,” said Illinois Basketball Coach Brad Underwood. “His achievements are legendary, but what is immeasurable are the countless lives he impacted during his 21 years in Champaign and 41 years in coaching. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Mary and their family, and the hundreds of players who were fortunate enough to be led by such a tremendous man and coach. Rest in peace to the best to ever wear the orange jacket; we’ll miss you Coach.”

Fans and friends may also post thoughts, memories and stories here.

Lou Henson’s legendary college basketball coaching career spanned 41 years at three programs. He spent four seasons at Hardin-Simmons (1963-66), where he integrated the basketball program before garnering a 67-36 record. He followed with a nine-year stint at New Mexico State (1967-75), leading the Aggies to the 1970 Final Four and totaling a record of 173-71. That success prepared him for his next stop at the University of Illinois.

Henson was hired at Illinois on April 5, 1975. What followed was a legendary 21-year career in charge of the Orange and Blue (1976-96). He amassed a 423-224 record, highlighted by 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, a total of 15 postseason bids, and eleven 20-win seasons. Illinois basketball was one of the nation’s most dominant programs during Henson’s tenure, earning a top-5 seed in the NCAA Tournament seven straight years from 1984 through 1990.

Henson’s Illini won the 1984 Big Ten Championship and advanced to the Elite Eight. His most successful season came with the Flyin’ Illini, who won a then-school record 31 games and advanced to the 1989 NCAA Final Four. Illinois won 233 games during the 1980s, standing as the winningest Big Ten team of that decade.

Henson still ranks fifth all-time among Big Ten coaches in both total wins (423) and conference wins (214).

Following his retirement from Illinois, Henson returned to the sidelines at New Mexico State, leading the Aggies for an additional seven-plus years (1998-05) and collecting a 116-81 record, highlighted by a 1999 Big West title and NCAA Tournament appearance.

In all, Henson won 779 games; ranking 24th on the all-time NCAA wins list, and 15th all-time among coaches with at least 10 years spent in Division I. He is one of 13 coaches in NCAA history to record 200-plus wins at two DI schools, totaling 423 at Illinois and 289 at New Mexico State to remain the winningest coach at both programs. He also stands as one of just 15 coaches to lead at least two different teams to the Final Four.

A native of Okay, Oklahoma, Henson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New Mexico State while earning three varsity basketball letters from 1953-55. He began his coaching career at Las Cruces High School, winning three straight New Mexico state titles from 1959-61.

Henson was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015, the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018, the New Mexico State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1978, the Hardin-Simmons Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.

The playing floor at State Farm Center was officially dedicated as Lou Henson Court on Dec. 2, 2015, and his name also adorns the court at New Mexico State.