Road Work On Rt. 51 To Begin Next Week

Road Work On Rt. 51 To Begin Next Week

August 13, 2020 – The Illinois Department of Transportation announced that construction on U.S. 51 from Business U.S. 51 southwest of Decatur to just north of the Shelby County line begins the week of Aug. 17.

The work involves resurfacing, bridge repairs, guardrail upgrades and pavement markings and will require daily lane closures. Motorists can expect a smoother driving surface with this work, which is expected to be complete next spring.

Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through this area. To avoid the work area, when feasible, use of alternate routes should be considered.

Drivers are urged to pay close attention to changed conditions and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits, refrain from using mobile devices and be alert for workers and equipment.

JCAR Upholds Governors Mask Enforcement Rules

JCAR Upholds Governors Mask Enforcement Rules

August 11, 2020 – A legislative oversight committee upheld Governor JB Pritzker’s mask enforcement rules for Illinois businesses, schools and daycare centers,

The rules create guidelines for enforcing the state’s mask mandate and social distancing requirements, ranging from a warning to fines for repeat offenders. The Governor’s General Counsel, Ann Spillane, says businesses need to post signs asking customers to wear a mask and provide masks to customers if possible.  They do not need to police those who say they can’t medically wear a mask.

Opponents argued that any enforcement measures sound be a part of State law and that businesses should not be held liable for customers refusing to wear a mask.  The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules let the guidelines stand.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) was one group not pleased by the ruling.  “We are disappointed the administrative rule was not stopped. Contrary to the false narrative peddled by the administration in recent days, retailers have never been against masks. In fact, the retail industry helped develop many of the safety guidelines put in place by the state, including the use of face coverings in public,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.
 

The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association, representing the state’s gas stations and convenience stores, agreed with the IRMA.

“Doing business in Illinois during this unprecedented time of conflict and challenge is now even harder”, said Josh Sharp, CEO of the Illinois Fuel and Retail Association. “Requiring masks and punishing business owners, not customers, for not using them just doesn’t make sense. Businesses are struggling to open and stay open. We are not the problem, and yet again we are being treated as criminals. It’s not right, and it will not work.”

Illinois Banking On COVID-19 Aid Package That Hasn’t Materialized

Illinois Banking On COVID-19 Aid Package That Hasn’t Materialized

August 11, 2020 – Congress has yet to agree on another COVID-19 aid package that would free up money for states like Illinois. The problem for Illinois is, state government is banking on that money. It’s still not clear what, if any, additional federal aid Illinois governments will get.

President Donald Trump Friday said one issue that kept the sides apart from a deal was Democrats pushing to bail out poorly run state and local governments. “They wanna be able to make up for many, many years, and in some cases decades of bad management and we can’t do that,” Trump said. “So that’s what they want. They want to do that and we don’t want to do that.”

“The massive taxpayer bailout of badly run blue states,” Trump said Saturday just before signing a variety of executive orders. “We talked about, that’s one of the things they’re looking to do.”

Before talks broke down in Washington, state Treasurer Michael Frerichs said if the federal government doesn’t free up money, there’s going to have to be cuts in state spending.

“When the General Assembly passed the budget, it was contingent upon federal help and the governor said if that federal does not arrive, he will need to make cuts to the budget and that is the governor’s job,” Freirichs said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he’ll have to cut spending if billions in aid isn’t approved and released by the federal government.

Truth In Accounting Research Director Bill Bergman said lawmakers did approve the ability for the state to borrow $5 billion from a Federal Reserve loan program.

“Illinois’ already tapped into that facility to the tune of $1.2 billion, but that’s money that’ll have to be paid back in a year,” Bergman said.

That borrowing was supposed to be covered by $5 billion the state was looking for from the federal government. Bergman said it’s becoming more clear things could get rocky in the next year or so and people should be “battening our hatches and looking at our options.”

There could also be continued costs to state taxpayers from ongoing unemployment benefits. Trump signed an order that continues unemployment with an additional $400 a week, instead of $600. Part of that is supposed to be covered by the states.

In June, the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced it was set to borrow up to $3.8 billion from the federal government through September. The state took five years to pay off $1.4 billion it borrowed to cover unemployment during the Great Recession of 2008.

As to the first month of the fiscal year that started July 1, the Illinois Department of Revenue has posted collections remitted to the comptroller for the month. Revenues are up nearly $2 billion more from the same month the year before.

From all revenue sources, July 2019, which was the first month of fiscal year 2020, there was $3.5 billion reported. Sales and use taxes brought in $1.5 billion, and individual income taxes also brought in $1.5 billion.

For July 2020, the first month of fiscal 2021, there was $5.5 billion reported. Nearly $3 billion came from individual income taxes and $1.4 billion was from sales and use taxes. There’s also nearly $14 million of adult use cannabis tax collections that wenen’t around the year before. Motor fuel tax revenue was up nearly $80 million and cigarette taxes were up nearly $40 million.

OSHA and IDOL Announce Safe and Sound Week to Highlight Worker Safety

OSHA and IDOL Announce Safe and Sound Week to Highlight Worker Safety

The Illinois Department of Labor has joined with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to highlight safety and health programs during the week of August 10-16 for Safe and Sound Week.

Each August, the nationwide event is held to highlight the successes of health and safety programs in the workplace.  It is also a time to offer information and ideas on ways to keep America’s workers safe. “Health and safety are key concerns for IDOL and its Illinois OSHA program year-round, and the Safe and Sound Week is an excellent opportunity to highlight how vital it is for public agencies and private businesses to develop health and safety programs to protect their employees,” said Michael Kleinik, IDOL Director.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the rate of worker deaths and injuries in the U.S. has decreased by more than 60% over the last five decades since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed.  However,  there are still more than 5,000 workers killed on the job and over 3.6 million workers suffer a job-related injury or illness every year.

For more information on OSHA’s 2020 Safe and Sound Week go to the official website at https://www.osh.gov/safeandsoundweek

 

Community Foundation Awards $150,000 In Grants For Workforce Development, Education and Environment

Community Foundation Awards $150,000 In Grants For Workforce Development, Education and Environment

August 6, 2020 – The Community Foundation of Macon County (CFMC) is awarding more than $150,000 in Communityworks grants to nine area organizations, benefitting nearly 15 community programs.

“The overall purpose of Communityworks is to provide a coordinated, systems-based approach toward the achievement of community aspirations,” says CFMC Foundation President Natalie Beck. “This endowed fund provides grants to area organizations and institutions whose efforts further the vision of a sustainable community in select priority areas of workforce development, education, and environmental sustainability.”

The 2020 Communityworks grant recipients are:

Workforce Development and Education:

• Boys & Girls Club of Decatur, $2,500 for virtual learning support

• Children’s Museum of Illinois, $2,500 for virtual learning support

• Baby TALK, $5,000 for adult education – family literacy program

• Salvation Army, $5,000 for Pathway of Hope

• Decatur-Macon County Opportunities Corporation (DMCOC), $10,000 for CDL certification program

• Richland Community College (RCC), $10,000 for the EnRich program and $10,000 for Project Read

• Workforce Investment Solutions, $98,500 for LPN scholarships, RN scholarships, accelerated welding at RCC, essential skills at Oasis Day Center and seven youth work experiences

Environment:

• Beautify Decatur Coalition, $2,000 for operating support

• Macon County Conservation District Foundation, $6,500 for operating support

“These recipient organizations are providing extremely valuable services to the community, and we’re proud to be a partner in helping them expand their efforts to improve the quality of life in Macon County,” Beck adds. “Our board of trustees also placed significant emphasis on workforce development this year in response to the effects of COVID-19, noting that to emerge strong from the pandemic, companies should start reskilling their workforces now. This year’s funding helps our community meet this challenge by investing in employees’ social and emotional skills, their digital and cognitive capabilities, and their adaptability and resilience.”

In 2005, The Community Foundation of Macon County was one of 18 initial foundations chosen to receive a Communityworks grant from the Grand Victoria Foundation. Through the years, CFMC has received donor contributions to meet the challenge funding matches required by the Grand Victoria Foundation, increasing CFMC’s Communityworks endowment fund to over $6 million.

The next round of applications for competitive and strategic Communityworks grant funding opens in April 2021.

African American Cultural and Genealogical Society Purchases Permanent Home

African American Cultural and Genealogical Society Purchases Permanent Home

August 2, 2020 – The African American Cultural and Genealogical Society now have a permanent home after purchasing the building in which it currently resides. 

The museum, located at 235 west Eldorado, was able to purchase the building with the help of the Central United Methodist Church.  

The African-American Cultural & Genealogical Society was organized on August 31, 1993, starting with 25 members from Decatur and Central Illinois. 

The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm and the First and Third Saturday from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Call (217) 429-7458 for more information. 

Decatur Area Arts Council to Hold Competition in Place of Craft Beer Festival

Decatur Area Arts Council to Hold Competition in Place of Craft Beer Festival

With the annual Decatur Craft Beer Festival being canceled due to COVID-19, the Decatur Area Arts Council decided to have a “socially cautious competition” in lieu of the festival.

Game of Cups will begin on August 20th and will be held every Thursday from 7-9 p.m. through September 17th.  The first month of qualifier rounds will be held at Decatur Brew Works and Golden Fox Brewing with the location alternating every week.  The best three teams will then compete in the finals at Golden Fox Brewing.  The top three teams will win cash prizes of $300, $200 and $100.

Teams will consist of two players or, “cupples” playing their five to seven games in a relay-race style competition.  Games will consist of flipping, dropping, stacking, tossing, bouncing, and more with their solo cups.  Drinking is not required to compete in Game of Cups.

“We encourage everyone to have fun and get creative with their team names and outfits for the night.” said Jerry Johnson, executive director of the Arts Council.

Health guidelines for social events will be observed.  Competitors must wear masks.  Hand sanitizer and disposable gloves will be made available.

Competitors must register in advance at DCBFest.com due to time and space limitations at each qualifying round.