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One Injured In Intersection Crash

One person was cited after a two vehicle collision on Caldwell Street at the Lafayette Avenue intersection last night. A vehicle driven by 45 year old Brandie J. Belford of rural Jacksonville was traveling westbound on West Lafayette Avenue at approximately 5:40PM, when, according to a police report, a vehicle driven by 57 year old Kimberly L. Stout of Murrayville pulled out in front of Belford’s vehicle causing a collision.

According to the police report by Jacksonville Police, Stout was traveling northbound on Caldwell Street and was stopped at the stop sign at the intersection and then allegedly pulled out in front of Belford’s vehicle who had the right of way, causing the crash.

Belford sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported by LifeStar EMS from the scene to Jacksonville Memorial Hospital. Both vehicle were towed from the scene with disabling damage.

West Lafayette Avenue was shut down for approximately one hour during clean up.

Stout was later issued a citation for failure to yield at an intersection.

Bluffs Names Johnson Permanent Police Chief

The Village of Bluffs has found a new police chief.

The Journal Courier reports that Bluffs Board members approved hiring Patrick Johnson as the village’s new police chief. He has been performing the duties of the position for the past six month as a interim chief. According to the report, the village board had used the interim period to let board members gauge Johnson’s performance before making the position permanent.

Johnson was given the interim tag back in June when Chief of Police Bob Smith stepped down to due scheduling conflicts. Smith had taken over the position on January 1st after Dorman Deeder announced his retirement after serving in the position for 3 years.

Beardstown Reworking Zoning for Mobile Homes, Downtown Business District

The City of Beardstown may be making significant changes to their zoning ordinances for mobile homes and store fronts soon.

The Journal Courier reports that the Beardstown Planning Commission is suggesting that zoning for mobile homes be changed in Beardstown for new sites. The proposed ordinance would not affect any existing mobile homes unless the home is removed. Several areas in Beardstown are zoned as mobile home parks, but there are also locations throughout the city that have mobile homes on them that are not zoned for mobile homes. Some of those that lie in incorrect zoning have applied for variances in the past and received them from the city.

The Planning Commission Board is suggesting once an existing mobile home is moved, another mobile home would not be able to be placed there unless the area is already zoned for mobile homes.

The commission is also suggesting that store fronts in the downtown area not be allowed to convert into apartments buildings. The ordinance would allow residential areas in other parts of a downtown building, but 100% of the building would not be allowed to be turned into apartments in an effort to continue to attract businesses to Beardstown’s downtown business district.

Another meeting will be held by the Planning Commission board later this month to discuss the city attorney’s drafting of the new zoning ordinance, with the final draft expected to be presented to the Beardstown City Council for their business meeting on December 21st.

LLCC Foundation Scholarships Application Open for 22-23 School Year

The Lincoln Land Community College Foundation is currently accepting scholarship applications for the 2022-2023 academic year. Students planning to attend LLCC beginning in fall 2022 are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

LLCC Foundation scholarships are available for first-time and continuing students who will be enrolled full- or part-time at LLCC. Many of the scholarships are open to students in any program of study, with the average award being $1,000 per academic year.

The online application can be found at llccfoundation.org/scholarships. An active LLCC email address is needed to apply for these scholarships. Prospective students should first complete a college admission application to receive an email address.

Only one application form is needed to apply for all scholarships. Students submitting a complete application are considered for all available scholarships for which they are eligible. The deadline to apply is March 1st.

Murphy To Use Ties To ILGA to Help Springfield

A recently retired State Representative says his new job shouldn’t run afoul of the state’s registered lobbyist requirements.

Mike Murphy, who announced his resignation from the General Assembly as the 99th District Representative on Wednesday, says his new job as the head of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce won’t cause a conflict with the state’s “revolving door” rules for former lawmakers.

Murphy told WMAY that he will take advantage of his ties to the legislature to advocate on behalf of Springfield business interests, but says he doesn’t believe that would violate any state rules on lobbying activities by former lawmakers. Murphy says if he is required to register with the state as a lobbyist, he would do so.

Murphy’s district got absorbed into the newly drawn 107th legislative district, which also houses 95th District Representative Avery Bourne of Morrisonville. Murphy said earlier this summer if he was placed in a district that would require him to primary Bourne, he would retire from the General Assembly because he feels that Bourne is a part of the future of the state Republican party and wants her to continue her work in the General Assembly.

Christmas Remembrance Ceremony for Vietnam POWs and MIAs Tomorrow in Springfield

Veterans wishing to participate in a special Christmas Remembrance Ceremony for POW and MIAs will have the opportunity this weekend.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will host the annual Christmas Remembrance Ceremony for Illinois soldiers listed as POWs or MIAs during the Vietnam War tomorrow at 1PM at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield at the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The public is invited to the ceremony. Family and friends will have the opportunity to hang ornaments adorned with the name of their loved one who is listed as a POW or MIA on a tree near the memorial. The Black Tiger Honor Guard will serve as color guard. The names of the POWs and MIAs will be read aloud. The ceremony will also include music courtesy of the Land of Lincoln chorus.

According to the Illinois Vietnam Vigil Committee, there are still 63 men unaccounted for from Illinois from the Vietnam War. IDVA Acting Director Terry Prince says it’s important to remember those who never came home and continue to support families and friends of those who have been denied closure and continue to mourn their loved one each day.

City of Winchester Has Two Major Capital Projects on the Horizon

The City of Winchester is looking for grants to help fund two major capital projects in the near future.

Greg Hillis of Benton & Associates alerted the Winchester City Council on Wednesday that the city is in need of replacing several thousand linear feet of existing water lines: “We have talked about the USDA and the water mains [in the past] as far as a loan agreement and what we need to do. I met with [Public Works Superintendent] John Simmons one day and we walked through and looked at the whole city. He’s got great documentation of all of the water mains that’s under-sized and problems throughout. You’re looking at, if we look at them all, there’s about 11,000 lineal feet of water main that could be replaced throughout the City of Winchester.”

Mayor Rex McIntire says that some of the water mains and lines are original to the city’s water system: “It’s obvious that we have a lot of older mains in the community. We have been replacing some, but we have some that were put in when the system was put in originally in 1914. There are several that are in need, and obviously, again, we don’t have the money to do it without help. We will be applying for grants and low-interest loans in order to replace the ones that are in dire need of replacing.”

Hillis told the council on Wednesday he would be starting the grant application on the city’s behalf with the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office within the next few weeks.

Hillis also alerted the council that it was time to take another shot at a major grant to get their downtown square repaved. Hills says several million dollars are currently open through the USDA once again: “The downtown square grant – the application is out there now. Total funds available are $50 million. The minimum grant amount is $250,000 and the maximum grant is $3 million. No match if you are considered a community, which you are. If you do want to look at doing the downtown grant, we would be more than happy to assist you in that with the application. We have seen the application, and to submit that would be in the $3,500-$4,200 range. It is tied to Covid relief, and I think it is something that we can show that all of the downtown area was hurt during the Covid shutdowns, business-wise. This has to be a bondable project, so it cannot just be a resurface. It’s going to have to be a remove-and-replace of the pavement.”

McIntire says it’s a project he has worked on since his previous term; and it’s an item that the city has wanted to complete for several decades: “I’ve been pushing for it for 2 or 3 years. Obviously, nobody has gone through this situation like we’ve had in the last year and a half. We don’t know yet, but we aren’t going to be able to do it unless we get the money. Right now, we are just applying for the money and trying to get that grant that’s available.”

The city attempted to get the grant last year but was unsuccessful. Hillis told the city council that the project bid for the resurfacing was close to $1.7 million, but with current issues with the supply chain and rising material costs due to inflation, the project would likely cost more than $2 million to complete.

Davidsmeyer Bill Takes Aim at State Bus Driver Shortage

A Local representative has introduced a bill that would allegedly help with the state’s school bus driver shortage.

100th District Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer says his new bill would change current law to allow for people who lost their licenses for circumstances unrelated to driving to get their bus driver’s permit: “Currently, the law says that an individual is required to have a driver’s license uninterrupted for the 3 years prior to becoming a school bus driver. What my bill does is that if you had your driver’s license taken away or didn’t have it for the full 3 years prior, as long as it wasn’t taken away due to a moving violation you are still able to apply to become a bus driver. So, if it was taken away, for example, because you got behind on paying child support or something like that, it wouldn’t count per say towards the 3 year requirement of having your driver’s license.”

Davidsmeyer says that safety will still be at the forefront of selecting bus drivers and says that the permit process will still have a background check: “For school bus drivers, there is still background checks and all the other requirements. This [bill] just specifically deals with an individual’s driving record, so if you had unsafe driving practices in your past, they are still going to see that and see exactly what your violations were, whether it was speeding or running stop signs…whatever it may be. This bill just says that if it’s not driving related and your license was taken away for a non-driving related issue, individuals can either get their bus driver’s license reinstated or apply.”

Davidsmeyer’s bill will be introduced to the Illinois House when it reconvenes for regular session in January.

South Jacksonville Sorting Through Details of Creating Full-Time Fire Chief Position

The Village of South Jacksonville still has some details to iron out before a full-time fire chief position is created.

The initiative to create a full-time chief position dates back almost two years when current part-time chief Rich Evans, Jr. presented the board with a job description, comparable salaries, and his future plans if he were to be named to the full-time position.

Village Trustee Stacy Pinkerton motioned to table the action item last night during approval of the agenda for the village business meeting saying that the board simply wasn’t ready to vote on the creation of the position. The board voted 4-2 in favor of removing the item from the agenda, with trustees Tom Jordan and John Stewart voting no.

Jordan says that the position will help the village to continue its growth: “I think would be beneficial for the village moving forward for our growth, our protection, and our residents. [The creation of the position] could possibly be a step forward for having a full-time ambulance service, which is badly needed in this area.”

New trustee Jackie Killion says that there are some missing details that need to be filled in, but the village does want the position created: “First and foremost, we want to make it extremely clear, we all want a fire chief. Let’s just put that out there right now. We’re not against a [full-time] fire chief. I’ve never been against it. I think it’s a great idea. I think our community deserves it; but what I found out, and I have been doing my research, is that we don’t know anything about [the fire department’s] budget. I don’t know what the budget is. I don’t know how much is left. I don’t know how much is spent. I don’t have a timeframe over the last, say, four years of what the budget is, how much is spent, and if we can sustain it. We want the [full-time] chief. We like Rich, but I have to agree when [the other trustees] say that we are going to give him a job but not be able to sustain it. We are going to ask [Rich] to give up his job of all these years where I am sure he makes good money to come here and then we end up saying ‘Well, we sort of ran the money and this happened and that happened and now we don’t have it.’ Maybe if we can see that in hard copy and not just hear [that we can sustain the position], that would lead to it being created.”

The proposal now heads back to the public protection committee and the personnel committee to wrap up any remaining questions.

Bohrmann is being pinned by his wife for his promotion ceremony in front of the Village of South Jacksonville trustees.

In other village business last night, the village approved a 0% increase to their tax levy; hired Michael Theis for the Public Works Department; and approved the promotion of Police Officer Dan Bormann to Sergeant and approved his appointment to be the department’s field training officer.

The board also voted to table Jose Lopez’s TIF agreement for the new Casa Real restaurant. Trustee Megan Davidson said that some details needed to be finalized on Lopez’s final TIF application with numbers before final approval.

Twilight Holiday Tours at the Duncan Mansion Kicks Off Tonight

The first taste of the Christmas season in Jacksonville kicks off this evening at the Governor Duncan Mansion. The Rev. James Caldwell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will be opening the mansion for twilight holiday tours tonight from 5-8PM and again on Saturday from 5-7PM.

Susan Hardin, Curator of the Duncan Mansion says that the mansion will really put you in the holiday spirit: “The Duncan Mansion and Duncan Park has been decorated. It’s absolutely gorgeous. You won’t believe how it transforms that house into something that is just unbelievable. At the mansion itself, in addition to the decorations, Nick Xamis is making his infamous baklava, and his wife Jeanie, is making Mary Todd-Lincoln’s sugar cookies; and we are going to have wassail along with some other treats. Then, after you have finished with your tour at the mansion, you can go over to Blessings On State Street, and they are having an afterglow party there. All of that is included in your ticket.”

Hardin says that a limited number of advance tickets remain for purchase at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast at 1109 West State Street. She says tickets will also be available at the door the nights of the event. Cost is $20 per adult and $10 per child. Hardin says if you are fully vaccinated, you are welcome to not wear a mask at the event. However, if you are not, you will be requested to wear a mask inside the mansion.

Hardin says it’s important for the community to show up to help the DAR and the Duncan Mansion. She says that due to COVID-19, they have not been able to hold their normal fundraisers that go towards paying for the mansion’s upkeep and regular bills: “I really hope the community shows up and supports this event.”

Hardin says that members of the public will also be welcome to stroll the historic neighborhood and enjoy lights and decoration adorning the surrounding historic homes to get into the holiday spirit this weekend.