Vehicle Strikes Tree & Building On West College

A Jacksonville man lost control of his vehicle causing property damage in the 300 block of West College Avenue this afternoon.

Jacksonville Police were summoned to the new Morgan County COVID-19 testing site at 4:57PM. A caller had reported that a truck spun out of control and rocks from the incident had broken their window.

According to an initial police report, a truck driven by 44 year old Michael D. Dyer of the 1000 block of North Fayette Street was traveling eastbound in the 300 block of West College Avenue when he allegedly lost control of the vehicle. The truck traveled north across the oncoming lane of traffic and up over the curb onto the boulevard. As the truck continued across the boulevard, the passenger side rear fender struck a tree. After striking the tree, the truck continued traveling north, striking the side of the Morgan County COVID-19 Contact Tracing Center at 340 West College Avenue, which caused a window to break.

Dyer’s vehicle sustained approximately $1,500 worth of damage to the rear fender. Damage to the tree was estimated at $300. The broken window was estimated at $2,500. Dyer reported no injuries to Jacksonville Police or LifeStar EMS. Dyer was cited for Failure to Reduce Speed to Avoid an Accident.

Search Begins To Fill Manar Vacancy in 48th Senate District

Lawmakers have announced the official vacancy of the 48th State Senate District seat. The seat was vacated earlier this month by Democrat Andy Manar who resigned to take a position as a senior advisor in Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Administration.

The 48th Legislative District Committee said it will be accepting applications for those interested in being appointed to complete the current term, which has two years remaining. The 48th District covers portions of Macon, Christian, Montgomery, Macoupin, Madison, and Sangamon counties.

People who wish to be considered should send in a resume or biography, a detailed statement explaining their involvement with the Democratic Party, another detailed statement about their electability and vision for the district, and a headshot. Applications should be emailed to by 5 p.m. on Monday, January 25th.

Applicants must be at least 21 years old, a resident of the 48th State Senate District for at least two years and a Democrat in good standing. Applications will be reviewed before the committee contacts finalists for an in-person interview on Saturday, January 30th or Sunday, January 31st. Finalists will be told about a time and location if they are selected. According to a press release, the committee plans to meet on Saturday, February 6th to vote on the appointment.

The State Journal Register reported yesterday that Springfield Ward 3 Alderwoman and Sangamon County Democratic Party chair Doris Turner, Springfield Park District board member Lisa Badger; former Springfield Ward 2 Alderman Frank McNeil; Chase Wilhelm, an Army reservist who ran unsuccessfully against state Rep. Avery Bourne in 2020 and current Illinois Department of Corrections chaplain, Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe; and Macoupin County board member Roberta Vojas have all mentioned potentially running for the seat. Decatur State Representative Sue Scherer has already announced she will remain in the House and not seek the seat.

Manar’s replacement will be selected by the six county Democratic Party chairs in the district, who each have a vote weighted by the amount of votes Manar received in the 2018 election. According to the SJ-R, Macon County has the highest percentage of weighted vote at 26.7%, followed by Macoupin County at 21.4%, Sangamon County at 19.6%, Christian County at 14.1% and Montgomery County at 13.9%. Madison County has 4.1% of the weighted vote.

Madigan Moves Out of Springfield Apartment Fueling Speculation of His Resignation from the IL House

Movers were reportedly moving items out of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s apartment in Springfield’s Lincoln Towers fueling speculation he may soon resign from the Illinois House of Representatives all together.

First tweeted by WCIA reporter Mark Maxwell yesterday afternoon, Maxwell said Madigan staffers were clearing apartment furniture out of the apartment. Madigan spokesman Steve Brown later confirmed to reporters that Madigan’s apartment, one he’s occupied for 40 years, is now vacant. Brown told reporters that he no longer needs the apartment and will likely stay in hotels for session days. Brown told reporters that he had not heard whether Madigan is discussing a resignation at this time.

According to the Daily Line, if Madigan did resign, he would have unilateral power to select a replacement to finish out his new 2-year term. Madigan is Chicago’s 13th Ward Democratic Party Chair and would have more than half the vote share in the party-led vacancy filling process.

Madigan gave up the gavel to Illinois’ House Speaker seat last week for the first time since 1983. He goes down in history as longest-serving legislative leader in the United States. Madigan served all but 2 years during that 37 year history. Madigan’s reputation still hangs in the balance in an ongoing patronage hiring and bribery scheme with energy giant Commonwealth Edison. The federal investigation into the scheme have implicated Madigan’s known involvement in the scheme as “Public Official A” in a host of charging documents. Madigan has repeatedly stated his innocence and no charges have been filed by federal investigators in the now-two year old case.

Lancaster Chosen For Daisy Award

A Passavant Area Hospital nurse was honored today for excellence in nursing. Ashley Lancaster, a registered nurse at Passavant Area Hospital, recently received the Daisy Award for excellence in nursing.

A Daisy Award winner is named each quarter at Passavant. To be honored with a Daisy Award, a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse must consistently demonstrate excellence through clinical expertise and extraordinary care. A patient or a patient’s family nominates the honoree.

According to a press release, the patient who nominated Lancaster praised her for her compassion and for her personal way of caring for patients.

Lancaster was given a trophy and a certificate for the honor.

IDPH Announces EMS Region 3 Returning to Phase 4 of Restore Illinois Plan

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced today that EMS Region 3, which encompasses the entire WLDS/WEAI listening area, will be returning to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan. The region joins several others in rolling back mitigations today as IDPH announced that they have created a Surge Staffing Program to support hospitals in expanding capacity.

Hospital leaders and local health departments have communicated to IDPH that their primary capacity challenge is the need for additional staffing and stressed that state-facilitated staffing contracts will be critical in addressing this challenge. With this surge staffing program, IDPH and hospital leaders feel confident that metrics can safely move away from utilizing medical/surgical bed limits to move across mitigation tiers, allowing more regions to advance. The adjustment also recognized the substantial progress the state has made in lowering COVID-19 infections since November 20th when the entire state moved to Tier 3 mitigation levels.

To address capacity issues reported by Illinois hospitals, IDPH, in partnership with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), has launched a surge staffing program. The program leverages the state’s larger contracting power to engage multiple staffing vendors and create access to a talent pool at greater scale than any individual hospital could achieve. Hospitals with rooms available to increase capacity but lacking the personnel to staff their beds may partner with the state to procure the staff they need. Hospitals that create orders will enter into a contract with the state to access this new staffing pool.

In this phase, gatherings of 50 or fewer people are allowed. Indoor dining and entertainment, such as movie theaters, are allowed with capacity limits in place. Outdoor sporting events are allowed to resume with spectators with capacity limits.

IDPH says that it will continue to monitor hospital needs along with test positivity to maintain the state’s progress away from COVID infections. Region 3 has had 11 consecutive days under 12% test positivity rate, 11 consecutive days above 20% ICU bed capacity, and 7 days of COVID-19 patient decreases in regional hospitals. As of Friday, Morgan County’s 7-day rolling test positivity was at 2.6%, which is second lowest in the region.

This is a developing story.

Davis Reflects On Capitol Riot, New Metal Detectors

A local Congressman reflected on Thursday about the Capitol Riots that occurred on January 6th. 13th District Congressman Rodney Davis says that the incident that occurred during the tally of the Electoral College votes reminded him of the Alexandria, Virginia shooting that took place in June of 2017 during a charity congressional baseball game. Then-House GOP whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was wounded in that shooting.

Davis says its the second time in his tenure as a Congressman he has personally paid witness to violence against America’s elected officials: “It’s a moment that will always stand out in American history. It’s a moment that Americans attacked our own Capitol, and it’s wrong. What we saw there was obviously misinformation. Going out and inspiring individuals that somehow Congress in a Democrat House was going to change the Electoral College results and change the outcome of the election – it was not ever going to happen. People became so enraged by that misinformation and the lies that they heard that they decided to create an almost-armed conflict, because there were firearms discovered that the rioters possessed – they stormed the Capitol. They broke the law. It’s wrong. Riots are riots. We need to continue as Republicans to be the party of personal responsibility, and anyone who breaks the law needs to be held accountable, just like those individuals who knowingly broke the law by stepping into the Capitol.”

Davis says that things were okay once they were able to take shelter away from the rioters: “It was a personally trying day. However, it worked out great after we were evacuated. I was able to get to safety along with many of my colleagues and help some of my colleagues to safety. It was now the second time in less than 4 years that my life and the life of others have been saved by brave Capitol police officers.”

Davis says he has taken exception with new Capitol Grounds security measures recently put in place. Earlier last week, metal detectors were put in place to enter the House Chamber. Davis says his job as the lead Republican on the House Administration Committee are taking steps for better security measures around the perimeter of the Capitol. Davis says the metal detectors have nothing to do with potential threats and are political theatre by House Democrats: “There was an epic failure and a lack of intelligence sharing as to what could have happened and what did happen [on January 6th], and what the posture was of our Capitol police. I’m never going to put them at a disadvantage again. They need all of their resources along the outer perimeter of the Capitol where the known, credible, intelligence threats are. Instead, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi decided to put metal detectors up around the House Chamber, and take valuable police resources away from where the credible threats are and waste them for political theatre, but that’s typical.”

Freshman Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert had a standoff with Capitol Police on Tuesday at the metal detectors for refusing to allow them to search her bag. Boebert has bragged about her desire to carry a weapon at the Capitol. Weapons are banned from the floor of Congress. Despite that fact, fellow Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger told the Associated Press he was armed during the riot on January 6th. Davis got into shouting match on the floor of Congress on Tuesday with Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, where he accused the majority party for installing the detectors without consultation. Davis called the new installation of metal detectors as well as the new security measures “B.S.” in the argument.

House Republicans also cited Article 1 Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution that says that members of Congress in the exception of Treason, theft, or disturbing the peace cannot be arrested while they are at work, or on their way to work, in Congress. At the end of the article it says that members of Congress, “shall not be questioned in any other place” on their way to a speech or a debate in any chamber.

Democratic lawmakers say the extra measures will keep weapons from being brought to the floor of Congress and provide a safe and secure environment in which to conduct legislative business.

U.K.-Only COVID Strain Found in Chicago; SIU Identifies U.S. Specific Strain

The Chicago Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced on Friday the first case in Illinois of the COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom. The case was identified by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine through sequencing analysis of a specimen from bio-banked samples of COVID-19 positive tests. The new strain was first identified in the United States about two weeks ago in Colorado and has since been identified in several other states.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says that the strain spreads quicker and people should double down on COVID precautions: “Although we have no evidence that this new variant causes more severe disease or more death, early studies do show that this variant spreads easier and more quickly. If we do not continue to wear our masks, watch our distance, and avoid gatherings; this new variant could sweep across the state as it swept across the U.K., and that would lead us back to a place that we don’t want to go.”

IDPH along with the CDC are monitoring and testing for this strain nationwide. A follow-up case investigation by CDPH found that the individual had travelled to the UK and the Middle East in the 14 days prior to the diagnosis. CDPH has worked to identify close contacts of the individual to reinforce the importance of adherence with quarantine and isolation measures.

On Thursday, researchers at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale said they had also discovered a new variant of the virus that is specific to and dominant in the United States, adding to the growing list of mutations. Associate Professor of Chemistry and biochemistry at SIU, Keith Gagnon, said his lab uncovered a novel U.S.-specific coronavirus variant that accounts for about half of the cases in the country. Gagnon’s work traced the earliest appearance of the U.S. variant to Texas in May. Gagnon says that U.S. Variant has acquired 2 new mutations since then, which correspond with the second and third waves of the virus over the past year. Analysis revealed the U.S. variant has not spread significantly beyond the country’s borders and that it was most highly prevalent in the Upper Midwest.

With the first vaccines still being administered in the U.S., Gagnon says it is unclear how this variant might impact the vaccines’ effectiveness.

Davidsmeyer Calls Out Governor For Not Reopening Service Industry; Continued Failures at IDES

Illinois Assistant Republican leader C.D. Davidsmeyer is calling on Governor J.B. Pritzker to open bars & restaurants. Davidsmeyer said in a press release on Friday that the state is failing at every level of government while the Governor was doubling down on failed policies and wrong metrics of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Davidsmeyer says the Governor’s tactics were not scientific. Davidsmeyer also called out the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s continued issues, saying they were failing the very people the Governor had put out of work with his COVID-19 mitigations. Davidsmeyer says that Pritzker scheduled a 30-minute meeting on Saturday with legislators to answer pre-submitted questions. He has called open candor with the state’s department non-existent.

Many restaurants in the Jacksonville area reopened over the weekend with 25% capacity, while some EMS regions of the state moved to Tier 1 Covid-19 mitigations. Tier 3, which encompasses the entire WLDS/WEAI listening area, is still under Tier 2 mitigations. Tier 2 does not allow bars & restaurants to reopen under any capacity.

#HearOurVoiceIllinois Video Going Viral

A Group of Jacksonville High School Students and Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard are calling on Governor J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Illinois High School Association to get athletics and extracurricular activities going immediately.

With the assistance of Virtual Paradise Films and Channel, a host of JHS students dropped a video online yesterday asking for the state’s officials to Hear Our Voice Illinois. Many of the students described the devastating effects of not having sports or activities during the school year.

IHSA said yesterday that high schools in regions where Tier 2 mitigations are now in effect that low-risk sports can begin practice immediately and will begin competition within their geographic region on a future date to be determined by the IHSA Board. While medium & high risk sports will have to continue to wait on further guidance and no physical activity. More information is scheduled to come on January 27th after another IHSA Board meeting.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard and the students in the video called out their fellow high schools to join them in protest.

JHS joins Maroa-Forsyth who issued a similar video on Thursday, whose video has over 30,000 hits since posting.

The JHS Video can be viewed here on the Visual Paradise Films Facebook Page.

Surrounding states of Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana have allowed high school and elementary sports to continue when school went back into session in the Fall.

Pittsfield Man Injured In Rollover Accident

A Pittsfield man received minor injuries yesterday evening after his truck flipped over in icy conditions. The Illinois State Police report that a blue 2018 Chevy Silverado driven by 36 year old William Fitzmaurice of Pittsfield was traveling westbound on Illinois Route 106 between Pittsfield and Detroit at approximately 6 o’clock last night.

Fitzmaurice allegedly lost control of the vehicle due to icy conditions, sending the truck off to the right of the roadway. According to the ISP report, the truck then became airborne and overturned. Fitzmaurice had minor injuries but refused treatment at the scene. No citations were listed in the report.