Jacksonville Area Museum Featured in First of Two “Illinois Stories” Episodes

Anyone who missed out on The Jacksonville Area Museum’s sneak peek event this month can get a glimpse inside tonight from the comfort of their own homes.

The Jacksonville Area Museum will be featured on the Central Illinois television show Illinois Stories tonight. Illinois Stories is a local feature show on PBS station WSIU, formerly the Network Knowledge WSEC.

Museum Board Chairman David Blanchette says Illinois Stories has had a interest in the museum for sometime now, and came to shoot the episode just this month.

The Illinois Stories crew came in a few days after we had our Work In Progress Tour at the museum and they filmed a half hour segment about the museum as it exists now, it’s point in development and how we got to that point. That is the segment that is going to air in the coming days, and then they committed to come back once the museum is open and operating to do another segment.

So really they are following the development and it is really going to help us get the word out about what we are doing here. And those that couldn’t go on the Work In Progress Tour, please watch Illinois Stories. They did spend enough time to make a half hour show out of it, and it will give you a real good idea of what we have been able to accomplish.”

The episode will debut tonight on WSIU at 7:00 pm, and then will be shown again on Sunday at 4:00 pm and Monday at 6:30 pm.

Blanchette says he has known the host of the show Mark McDonald for many years now through his work with the State of Illinois and says he is thrilled with what McDonald and his team have put together for the show.

Blanchette says work is continuing on the museum itself with the board hoping to have new flooring installed over the existing concrete floors in the near future. He says as far along as the building has come, work is also in the beginning stages for future development and preservation of the museum itself.

We are in the process of trying to establish our not-for-profit foundation to support the museum, and if anyone would like to co-chair that foundation, I would appreciate hearing from them. I have asked several people who already have a lot of commitments in place and they have politely declined. So having someone to co-chair, that would be a great help so we can get that off the ground and start fundraising in a big way.”

Blanchette says anyone who is interested in assisting with the foundation, or volunteering or making a donation to the Jacksonville Area Museum can contact the board via their Facebook page.

The Illinois Stories episode premiers tonight on WSIU at 7:00 pm, and is also available online at

JPD Investigating Burglary at Roller Hockey League Storage

Crime Stoppers of Morgan, Scott & Cass Counties are requesting Information to assist the Jacksonville Police Department in their Investigation of a recent Burglary.

Sometime between 5:30pm on October 18 and 5:30pm on October 22nd, unknown persons used a tool to pry open and break a window to make entry into the Concession Shed of the Jacksonville Roller Hockey Rink in Nichols Park. Many of the food/drink items were then removed.

The police are asking that anyone who has information concerning this incident or any other crimes within the three-county area submit a tip online by going to and clicking the leave a tip button on the home page or calling Crimestoppers at 243-7300.

Crime Stoppers says if your tip leads to an arrest you are eligible for a cash payout. All tips are anonymous tips may also be submitted by texting 274637 (CRIMES). The first word of the text tip must be “payout”.

SJPD Testing Body Cameras, Speed Limit to Drop on Labor Drive

The Village of South Jacksonville Board of Trustees were updated on several items during the Committee of the Whole meeting last night, within the many of the agenda items focusing on safety.

South Jacksonville Chief of Police Eric Hansel informed the board that the department is moving forward in the process of making body cameras an active part of policing in the village.

Hansel says his one of his officers began on duty testing of the body camera equipment last night.

We are looking at getting those operational on the streets, developing a policy for their operation. We are in testing phase right now with where they need to be positioned on a uniform, and how we are going to record, what cues we are going to use to record and whether we are going to do live recording all the time or record based on activation of a squad car overhead lights.”

The Board of Trustees will need to adopt formal policy in order for the all

South Jacksonville Police Officers to utilize the equipment full time.

Hansel also updated the board on some personnel openings within the department.
He says the PD has received four applications for the open position of code enforcement officer, as well as four applications have been received for the newly opened crossing guard position.

Hansel says officers will help cover the duties of the existing guard who resigned the position citing personal reasons.

Hansel says he also has received a verbal notice of resignation from a full time officer on the force who said they are leaving to pursue another employment opportunity.

In other discussion last night, Public Works Superintendent John Greene said the new speed limit signs on Havendale will be posted on Thursday after a supply issue cause a delay in the correct signs arriving.

Greene also informed the board his department had been contacted by management at Labor Drive to request the speed limit be lowered due to safety concerns.

They were just having some issues and came to us and wanted to know if there was anything we could do possibly to drop the limit, so we told them we would lower the limit to fifteen miles an hour.

I don’t know what kind of issues they were having but obviously people were going through there at a high rate of speed, so they just want to protect their residents.”

Greene also informed the board that the valves for the water softener plant have arrived, and he hopes to have the system back online soon.

Cass County Seeing Increased Turn Out for Early Voting

Early voting in Cass County continues at a strong pace, as the County Clerk says her office is ready for an expected higher turnout on Tuesday.

Cass County Clerk Shelly Wessel told the Cass County Star Gazette that as of Monday nearly 20 percent of registered voters in Cass County have already cast their ballot with 1,492 of the county’s 7,880 registered voters had been processed.

Wessel says her office has seen a dramatic increase in mail in voting versus the 2016 election, with over 900 mail in ballots already received compared to just 264 total four years ago.

As of Monday, 1,163 mail in ballots had been issued in Cass County, with tomorrow, Thursday, October 29th being the last day the Clerk’s Office can mail out a ballot.

Wessel says even with the higher early and mail in votes, she expects a high turnout on Election Day, and her polling places are prepared for the volume. She says she is confident she has more than enough staffing including a list of substitute election judges in the event of a judge not being able to work or becoming ill.

Wessel also told the Gazette, polling places in Cass County will be in compliance with the COVID-19 Compliance Plan with election judges wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and continually cleaning and disinfecting all voting materials.

She says masks will be available for voters who do not have one, and any non-compliant voter refusing to wear a mask will be asked to wait outside of the polling place until all mask wearing voters have have finished and exited the facility.

Region 3 Above 8% Positivity for Second Day as Region 9 to Enter Restrictions on Halloween

Another COVID Region in the state will be subject to increased mitigation measures beginning on Saturday, as Region 3 looks to be next in line.

Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced today resurgence mitigations will be implemented in Region 9 as the region has now seen a 7-day rolling positivity rate above 8% for the third consecutive day.

Region 9 includes all of Lake and McHenry Counties in the northeast corner of the state. IDPH Director Dr. Ngoze Ezike says with Region 9 being added to the list of regions in mitigation, IDPH is getting closer to the entire state implementing mitigation measures.

Pritzker says beginning on Saturday at 12:01 a.m., public gatherings in Lake and McHenry counties will be reduced to 25 people, and indoor dining and indoor bar service will be temporarily closed – although outdoor service in tents and takeout, delivery and drive through service will remain available.

Region 3 which encompasses the entire WLDS/WEAI listening area is above the warning threshold for the second consecutive day, with a positivity rate of 8.1% as of this morning. If Region 3 is above the 8% threshold, resurgence mitigations could be expected to take effect in the area this weekend.

The announcement comes as IDPH also announced today a total of 6,110 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 51 additional deaths within the last 24 hours.

The seven day statewide positivity rate is now up to 6.7%

IDOI Says Premiums Down, More Carrier Options in Illinois ACA Health Insurance Options for 2021

Health Insurance Marketplace consumers in Illinois will have more carrier options to choose from in 2021.

The Illinois Department of Insurance announced today three new insurance carriers have been added to the ACA Marketplace as health insurance rates were released for the Illinois Exchange 2021 Plan Year.

The additions of Bright Health Insurance Company of Illinois, MercyCare HMO, Inc. and SSM Health Plan brings the total of available carriers to eight offering plans in the Illinois On-Exchange.

Open Enrollment for the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace starts on November 1 and continues through December 15th of this year. Get Covered Illinois (GCI) is the official health marketplace or “exchange” for Illinois consumers to purchase health insurance facilitated by the federal government.

A total of 179 plans are offered through the marketplace for 2021. Get Covered Illinois Executive Director Laura Pellikan says the website gives consumers a checklist of what to look for in a health plan, explains different options and can connect consumers to a trained counselor to assist in enrollment in a plan that will fit both their needs and budget.

Pellikan says the trained counselors can also help direct consumers to Medicaid to determine their eligibility.

According to the announcement, IDOI officials say that continuing last year’s downward trends, most Illinoisans will again see a decrease in premiums this year and rating areas remain the same.

For the 2021 Analysis of the Illinois Exchange Plan, visit:

For more information on Open Enrollment for the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace, visit:

Passavant CEO Concerned About Rising COVID Admissions

Hospital Administration at Passavant says the surge of COVID cases the hospital prepared for in March is happening now.

Passavant Area Hospital continues to see increases in the number of COVID patients both visiting and being admitted for treatment.

In July, Passavant Area Hospital, and the entire Memorial Health System was at it’s lowest point of need for COVID treatment, with several dates during the period where no patients were admitted due to COVID.

President and CEO of Passavant, Dr. Scott Boston said during an appearance this morning on the AM Conversation on WLDS, that across the Memorial network of five separate hospitals combined, there were approximately 5 to 7 patients admitted at the time on average.

Boston says the number of patients admitted to the hospital in recent weeks has become alarming.

What we’ve seen recently is dramatic. You could say it’s almost an exponential increase in that number of admitted COVID patients. We’ve been averaging five or six COVID patients a day for the last couple of weeks, and the heath system as a total when we count all five of the hospitals we’ve been upwards of eighty patients. So a very dramatic increase.”

Boston says Passavant has been fortunate to be able to take advantage of it’s affiliation with Memorial Health Systems, including access to it’s network of infection disease and prevention experts, increased access to P.P.E. Supplies, and pharmaceuticals.

Boston said Community spread is far more prevalent now, versus patients coming to the hospital from congregate living settings, and the increases in cases and hospitalizations is something the community as a whole needs to take very seriously.

After the interview with Dr. Boston, Memorial Health System declined to answer a follow up question by WLDS News inquiring on the available capacity at Passavant.

MHS said in a statement to WLDS News- Currently, the Illinois Department of Public Health reports that Region 3, which includes Jacksonville, has roughly 30 percent of ICU beds and 35 percent of other surge beds available. While the number of patients in intensive care fluctuates, Memorial Health System consistently mirrors Region 3 in its ICU availability.

Passavant Area Hospital, as part of MHS, works within our network to place patients where they can receive the appropriate level of care. Passavant has adequate capacity to treat COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients for both emergency and routine care needs. Regionally, Memorial Medical Center has the ability to rapidly convert other care areas into ICU beds for COVID-19 patients if that became necessary.”

According to the Passavant website, the hospital has a total capacity of 93 beds.

Region 3 Hits 8% Positivity, as More Regions Face Restrictions

More COVID-19 Resurgence Mitigations are taking effect this week around the state, as Region 3’s positivity rate hits an unwelcome threshold.

Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced today increased mitigations will be implemented in Region 11, the City of Chicago, beginning on Friday. Region 11 is the second of the state’s 11 regions to trigger additional mitigations based on sustained increases in positivity and hospitalization rates, the first being its neighbor, Region 10 (Suburban Cook County) earlier in the week.

As of today, including Region 11, seven of the state’s 11 regions have triggered one of the state’s failsafe state-action metric. By tomorrow, Regions 4, 5, 7, 8, and 10 will all operate under Tier 1 mitigation measures given that these regions continue to report a 7-day rolling positivity rate above 8%.

Region 3, which encompasses the entire WLDS/WEAI listening area, reached 8% positivity today following seven straight days of positivity rate increases and three consecutive days of hospital admission increases according to the IDPH website.

If the positivity rate in Region 3 stays at 8% or above for three consecutive days, increased tier 1 mitigations would be imposed such as the closure of indoor restaurant and bar service and a restrained gathering cap limit of 25 people. Pritzker says the increased capacity mitigations do not apply to schools or polling places.

Region 1 is currently operating under Tier 2 mitigation measures after continuing to see a rise in positivity even under the Tier 1 mitigation framework, and is now at a rolling positivity average of 12.5% as of this morning.

Two Outbreaks Confirmed in Jacksonville

The Morgan County Health Department received confirmation of two separate outbreaks of COVID-19 today.

Two residents and two employees of Heritage Health in Jacksonville have tested positive for the coronavirus.

A second outbreak was also confirmed today at Westfair Baptist Church, with 11 confirmed cases.

In total, 27 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Morgan County today, including an additional 13 inmates at the Jacksonville Correctional Center. Currently MCHD is reporting 133 active cases in Morgan County, including nine hospitalizations.

Morgan County has now had a total of 962 confirmed cases, and there are currently 188 individuals who are quarantined.

Persons with Disabilities Can Register and Vote at JACIL Disability Voter’s Event

Persons with disabilities who may need assistance with voting in the November General Election can get assistance Monday.

The Jacksonville Area Center for Independent Living and the Morgan County Clerk’s office is sponsoring a Disability Voter’s event. On Monday persons with disabilities can vote and if needed, obtain assistance with the process at the Morgan County Courthouse.

Colton Pettyjohn, a Consumer Advocate with JACIL says a grant from the Statewide Independent Living Council helped JACIL in providing the assistance. Pettyjohn says the goal of the event is to assist people with disabilities in embracing their right to help shape public policy.

People with disabilities may face hardships with either communication access, or say someone with a visual impairment or who is blind and can’t read the ballot. We always want to make sure that the people we serve at JACIL are getting equal access to everything.

We thought that this year, especially with it being the general election,and presidential election year, we decided to hold two Voter Disability Days this year to get people with disabilities more access.”

PettyJohn says fighting the lines at polling places can be a little overwhelming for some of JACIL’s consumers, and the voter disability day can help them take the stress out of casting their vote.

Pettyjohn says there will be multiple forms of assistance for varying types of disability.

We have an American Sign Language interpreter scheduled to be there for the full event, to provide communication access and to put it into simpler language for our deaf and hard of hearing consumers if they need it. As well as we are going to have an advocate present, either myself or one of our other advocates, will be available for people with physical disabilities to maybe help them to get into the Polling Place inside the courthouse if they need help. Or maybe they have a cognitive disability, a developmental disability or a learning disability and they need someone to put things into simpler language for them, we can do that as well.”

The Disability Voter’s event will be held at the Morgan County Courthouse Monday from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.

Pettyjohn says anyone with a disability who is not yet registered to vote, can still do so during the event. He says Monday will still be in the grace period allowing people to register and vote on the same day, and JACIL Consumer Advocates will assist with the process as well.

Morgan County Clerk Jill Waggoner has asked that anyone who wants to both register and vote during the event, to please contact Pettyjohn ahead of time so the Clerk’s Office can have a count of how many need this service.

To sign up to register to vote, or for questions about the event, Colton Pettyjohn at (217) 245-8371 or by email at