New COVID Drive-Thru Testing Site To Open Tuesday

New COVID Drive-Thru Testing Site To Open Tuesday

November 30, 2020 – – Crossing Healthcare will begin operating a new drive-thru COVID-19 clinic to help better serve the community.  The new site will allow for better traffic flow as well as protect healthcare workers from the winter elements.

The drive-thru clinic will be located on the northwest end of the Crossing Healthcare campus at 990 N. Water Street and will begin operation tomorrow.

COVID-19 testing will be available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. until noon (subject to change). Testing is offered at no cost to patients, however, patients are asked to provide their health insurance information. If insured, Crossing will bill insurance for the test, but patients will not receive a bill due to free COVID-19 testing under the CARES act.

To lessen wait times, patients are encouraged to register online for an appointment timeframe. Appointments can be scheduled by CLICKING HERE. Appointment times are approximate and Crossing says every effort will be made to complete testing within 30 minutes of arrival.

Once a vaccine is available, the drive-thru clinic will be utilized to administer vaccines to the community.

WSOY and NowDecatur to Broadcast and Podcast “The Cinnamon Bear”

WSOY and NowDecatur to Broadcast and Podcast “The Cinnamon Bear”

November 26, 2020 – The long-standing tradition continues as WSOY and NowDecatur plan to broadcast the timeless holiday classic “The Cinnamon Bear” on Christmas Day.

In addition, a podcast of each episode of the program will be available beginning on November 30th on NowDecatur.com

The Cinnamon Bear is an old-time radio program produced by Transco in 1937. The story focused on Judy and Jimmy Barton who go to the enchanted world of Maybeland to recover their missing Silver Star that belongs on their Christmas tree. Helping on the search is the Cinnamon Bear, a stuffed bear with shoe-button eyes and a green ribbon around his neck. 

Podcasts of all of the episodes will be available November 30th through the end of the year. WSOY will also broadcast the program in it’s entirety on Christmas Day. 

12 Candidates Running for 3 Seats on Decatur City Council

12 Candidates Running for 3 Seats on Decatur City Council

November 24, 2020 – 12 candidates have filed for Decatur City Council as of the last filing date on Monday. 3 more candidates filed Monday, including John Phillips, Marc Girdler and Jacob Jenkins. . .the last day of official filing. 

Anthony Chapple, Aldophis Cooper, Elijah England, Marty Watkins, William Wetzel, Hardik Shah, Ed Culp and incumbents David Horn and Chuck Khule filed simultaneously on the first official day of filing A lottery will be held for those initial 8 will be held next Wednesday, December 2nd to determine ballot order. 

The candidates are vying for 3 open seats on the Decatur City Council. 

The election will be held on April 6, 2021. 

2020 Tentative Multiplier Announced for Macon County

2020 Tentative Multiplier Announced for Macon County

November 18, 2020 – Macon County has been issued a tentative property assessment equalization factor of 1,000, according to Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue David Harris.  The property assessment equalization factor, or multiplier, is used to attain uniform property assessments among counties.  This is important due to some of the state’s 6,600 local taxing districts overlap.  If the equalization didn’t exist, it would result in substantial inequities between taxpayers with comparable properties.

State law currently requires property in Illinois to be assessed at 1/3 of its market value, with farm property being an exception.

The equalization factor is determined annually for each county.  This is done by comparing the sales price of individual properties that have been sold over the past three years to the assessed value placed on those properties by the county supervisor of assessments or county assessor.

Assessments in Macon County are at 33.30% of market value based on sales of properties since 2017.  The equalization factor for Illinois will be assigned for 2020 taxes and will be payable in 2021.

The assessed value of an individual property determines what portion of the tax burden a specific taxpayer will assume.  That individual’s portion of tax responsibility is not changed by the multiplier.

 

Under Guidance from MCHD, DPS61 Schools To Remain Virtual Until Jan 15th

Under Guidance from MCHD, DPS61 Schools To Remain Virtual Until Jan 15th

November 17, 2020 – Decatur Public Schools have announced it will follow the guidance of the Macon County Health Department and remain with virtual learning until at least January 15th.

“Throughout this entire pandemic, protecting the health and safety of our staff, students, and community has been our top priority. We continue to monitor the health and safety of our entire community as we make decisions on when it will be safe for students to return. As we approach the Thanksgiving and holiday season, I implore you to please take every safety precaution you can – wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home as much as possible, and as difficult as it may be, avoid gathering with people from outside your own household” said Dr. Paul Fregeau, Superintendent of Decatur Public Schools.

DPS administration says they continue to work with principals, teachers, and staff to plan for a return to in-person learning in the future.  An announcement was expected on December 4th about plans for third-quarter learning.  No word on if that will be pushed back.

Christmas Walk Cancelled Due To COVID

Christmas Walk Cancelled Due To COVID

November 3, 2020 – The 2020 Downtown Decatur Christmas Committee has announced that the Downtown Christmas Walk will be canceled this year due to COVID.  Sponsors of the Downtown Decatur Christmas parade also announced late last week that the parade will be canceled this year.  Both are expecting to return in 2021.  So what will be happening in Decatur for Christmas?  The committee says lights will still be installed downtown thanks to the help of the IBEW Local 146 on November 7th and 8th.

In addition, the Arts Council will have Christmas Card Lane on North Water and William street starting on November 23 and there will be a Christmas Tree lighting at the Civic Center on Sat., Nov. 28 at 6:30 pm. 

Santa will also be returning this year at the Transfer House with some safety measures in place due to COVID-19. 

Beginning Sat., Nov 28, families can leave a letter for Santa Claus at the Transfer House in Central Park and wave at Santa inside. (Santa House hours below.)
•    Within strict COVID procedures, brief no-contact, physically-distanced visits with Santa will be permitted.  Procedures include, but are not limited to, required masks (including Santa), one family in the building at a time, physical distancing both inside and outside the building (at least 6 feet from Santa and other visitors).
•    Santa House Hours
Saturday – 11/28/2020 – 4-8 pm
Sunday – 11/29/2020 – 4-8 pm
Saturday – 12/5/2020 – 5-8 pm
Sunday – 12/6/2020 – 11 am-5 pm
Friday – 12/11/2020 – 4-8 pm
Saturday – 12/12/2020 – 11 am-5 pm
Sunday – 12/13/2020 – 11 am-5 pm
Friday – 12/18/2020 – 4-8 pm
Saturday – 12/19/2020 – 11 am-5 pm
Sunday – 12/20/2020 – 11 am-5 pm
Monday – 12/21/2020 – 4-8 pm
Tuesday – 12/22/2020 – 4-8 pm
Wednesday – 12/23/2020 – 4-8 pm
Thursday – 12/24/2020 – 11 am-5 pm

Everyone is encouraged to support local businesses during the holiday shopping season, including Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28.

LISTEN: DPS To Continue Virtual Learning Through End of 2nd Quarter

LISTEN: DPS To Continue Virtual Learning Through End of 2nd Quarter

October 30, 2020 – — Students from PreK through 12th grade in Decatur Public Schools will continue to participate in virtual learning only for the remainder of the second quarter of the 2020-21 school year.

The second quarter ends on December 18, 2020.

“This was a difficult decision to make, as we know it’s very important to get our students back in the classroom. Nothing can replace the live interaction students get in person with their teachers and their peers,” said Dr. Paul Fregeau, Superintendent of Decatur Public Schools. “However, we also know that the health of our community is an essential factor in making our decision, and right now those health factors don’t support bringing our students back to in-person learning.”

DPS administration says they continue to work with principals, teachers, and staff to plan for a return to in-person learning, which could happen as early as the beginning of the third quarter on January 4, 2021. However, school officials will continue to monitor community health factors to make that determination. An announcement will be made on Friday, December 4, 2020, about third-quarter learning.

In-Person vs. Virtual Learning Selection A form is available now in Skyward Family Access that families MUST complete if they want students to participate in in-person learning once it becomes available. Families must select from the following options for each of their students:

● Selecting in-person learning will inform your school that you intend to send your student to school in person for the days they are assigned, with virtual learning continuing for the other days of the week.

● Selecting to remain in virtual learning only will inform your school that you intend to have your student remain at home, with a focus on independent assignments with limited face-to-face interaction. Students for whom a selection is not made will automatically be placed in virtual learning only. Students MAY NOT participate in in-person learning at school until a selection is made for that student in Skyward. If you think you would like your student to participate in in-person learning, please make that selection on the form. You can always change your preference back to virtual learning only, but it will be much more difficult to plan for your student’s in-person attendance if you do not make that selection. This form has been available for several weeks — parents who have already made their selection and do not wish to change it don’t need to do anything.

For parents who have not entered the form to make their selection, or those who wish to change their selection, that MUST be done by Friday, November 13, 2020, so that we can better plan for a possible return to in-person learning.

Families who need assistance completing the form should call their student’s school as soon as possible. In-Person Learning DPS continues to plan for a return to in-person instruction. The TENTATIVE plan is that students who select to return in person will be divided into two groups, A and B. To get students and staff acclimated to in-person learning, which will look very different in our schools than it did at this time last year, each group will begin with attending school in-person one day per week.

The following is an example of what a week on this abbreviated hybrid schedule would look like:

This abbreviated hybrid schedule would continue until it is determined safe to return to a more robust in-person schedule, at which time all students who select in-person learning would return to school four days each week.

Transportation

For parents/guardians who do select in-person learning, DPS encourages as many families as possible to provide their student transportation to and from school. While DPS will continue to provide transportation for qualified students as needed, providing your own transportation to and from school will significantly minimize the number of students on school buses, helping promote social distancing. If you are able to provide your own transportation for your student, please make that selection as well on the in-person learning form in Skyward Family Access.

Support for Students

We do know that virtual learning continues to be a challenge for many students and families. In-person appointments are available at all DPS schools for students with IEPs, English learners, and students who specifically request in-person assistance and/or tutoring from their teachers. We’re also creating a section on the Return to Learn webpage with resources available in our community to help support students’ social-emotional needs, as well as organizations your student can get involved in to stay active.

Return to Learn Webpage

The Decatur Public Schools Return to Learn webpage is updated frequently with the latest information about learning plans, plus resources for families in making decisions and helping support students. That website is available at www.dps61.org/returntolearn. Some details of the plan are still being determined in conjunction with the District’s collective bargaining units, so we ask for patience and understanding as we continue to work through these details. We also know that the COVID-19 positivity rate in our county and region changes daily, so planning for the future of instruction for DPS students must remain fluid as well.

Listen to the podcast with Dr. Paul Fregeau on Byers & Co:

IHSA Moves Forward with Basketball; Wrestling Postponed to April

IHSA Moves Forward with Basketball; Wrestling Postponed to April

October 29, 2020 – The Illinois high school basketball season is currently moving forward.  A day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker elevated the sport to the “high risk” level, effectively postponing the season, the Illinois High School Association held a special meeting yesterday to give the green light to move forward despite the governor’s order.  The Illinois High School Association governs high school sports in Illinois.

The IHSA will allow boys and girls basketball to begin practices on November 16, and games can begin on November 30.  The IHSA said masks will be worn by all players, coaches, and officials during play.

IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson was quoted saying it is important to have basketball during the winter months.  “Without basketball in the winter, we were going to have a really big hole in our winter season with limited activities for kids,” he said.  The IHSA now puts the final decision on basketball to school districts.  “It will become a local school decision to determine if a school will allow their basketball teams to participate following the guidelines developed by the SMAC,” said the IHSA.

Pritzker said school districts would be taking a legal risk by allowing basketball.  “It is unfortunate but they would probably be taking on legal liability if they went ahead and moved beyond what the state has set as the mitigation standard,” said Pritzker.

The IHSA said basketball can be played safely with changes to safety, such as requiring masks on the court.  “The IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offered additional mitigations, such as masks during play and social distancing on benches, that the SMAC believed would allow basketball to be played safely,” the IHSA said in a statement.

School district officials will be meeting with athletic directors and coaches in the coming days to formulate a plan for the season.

The IHSA board also approved the winter sport guidance for all low-risk sports, including boys swimming and diving, cheerleading, bowling, and gymnastics.  Wrestling will be moved to the summer season and will begin in April.